Seagate Reaches One Terabit Per Square Inch Storage Density

Written by John Ponio    Tuesday, 20 March 2012 15:26

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Seagate has recently reached a one terabit per square inch storage density, a record that is about 55% higher than the maximum HDDs today can manage. A trillion bits, or a terabit, is no doubt a big number, but what does that mean for hard drive sizes? Well, once they can roll these out manufacturing-wise (they said they'll have the drives shipping this decade), the first series using the new technology will just about double the current maximum capacity of hard drives, meaning we will be seeing 6TB 3.5in HDDs and 2TB 2.5in HDDs. Theoretically, though, this technology has a storage density ceiling that will give us 30-60 terabytes for 3.5in HDDs and 10-20 terabytes for 2.5in HDDs.

Mark Re, who is Seagate's senior vice president of Heads and Media Research and Development, said, "The growth of social media, search engines, cloud computing, rich media and other data-hungry applications continues to stoke demand for ever greater storage capacity. Hard disk drive innovations like HAMR will be a key enabler of the development of even more data-intense applications in the future, extending the ways businesses and consumers worldwide use, manage and store digital content."

The new technology he references, HAMR, is how they've reached this milestone. HAMR stands for Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording. PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording), which is what they use today, is expected to have a maximum storage capacity of 1 terabit per square inch, the same as this new technology can do at its start. 

At the end of the press release, Seagate put together a list of its historical firsts in the hard drive industry:

  • 1980: ST-506, the first hard drive, at 5.25 inches, small enough to be widely deployed in early microcomputers, the precursor of the modern PC. The 5 megabyte drive cost $1,500.
  • 1992: The first 7200RPM hard drive, a Barracuda ® drive
  • 1996: The first 10,000RPM hard drive, a Cheetah ® drive
  • 2000: The first 15,000RPM drive, also a Cheetah hard drive
  • 2006: Momentus ® 5400.3 drive, a 2.5-inch laptop drive and the world’s first drive to feature perpendicular magnetic recording technology
  • 2007: Momentus FDE (Full Disk Encryption) drive, the industry’s first self-encrypting hard drive
  • 2010: Momentus XT drive, the first solid state hybrid hard drive, combining traditional spinning media with NAND flash, to deliver speeds rivaling solid state drives (SSDs)