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Disk Makers Plan Tiny, Dense Hard Drives

Imagine a SAN in your briefcase. That's what disk drive vendors envision, and it could start happening this decade.

Scientists at Fujitsu Computer Products of America claim a "breakthrough" in the way data is stored on hard disk drives based on perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) -- the kinds of drives deployed in most servers and storage devices. (See Fujitsu Teams on Patterned Media.)

Fujitsu, working with Yamagata Fujitsu Ltd., Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd., and Kanagawa Academy of Science and Technology (KAST), has devised a method of patterning the thin-film layers of hard disk drives with honeycomb structures for storing data. In contrast, today's PMR-based drives pock thin film with random crystalline structures.

This means the aluminum oxide layer grown on top of an aluminum substrate could hold more than eight times the capacity of today's largest, fastest disk drives.

Today's 3.5-inch, 1-Tbyte drives, just starting to issue from Seagate and Hitachi, for instance, would give way to 2.5-inch drives capable of holding 1.2 Tbytes in two platters. Instead of offering 200 Gbit/s per square inch, the futuristic drives would hold up to 1 Tbit/s per square inch -- all in roughly half the space of today's drives and with the same power profile.

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