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Seagate creates 1TB/square inch hard drives

hard disk

By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 19 Mar 2012 at 17:47

Seagate claims it has paved the way for 3.5in hard drives with 60TB capacities after breaking the 1TB/square inch density threshold.

According to the company, it has produced a working demonstration of technology that could double the storage capacity of hard drives when it is introduced into commercial hardware later his decade, with the technology scaling up to 60TB drives by 2030.

The company said the breakthrough relied on heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) that allows data to be written closer together without impacting or corrupting neighbouring data.

“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,” said Mark Re, senior vice president of Heads and Media Research and Development at Seagate.

The technology is expected to replace the Perpendicular Magnetic Recording techniques used to write to today’s hard drive platters.

Seagate said that HAMR techniques had allowed it to record a linear bit density of two million bits per inch, resulting in a data density of just over 1 trillion bits, or 1TB per square inch, marking a 55% improvement on the current 620GB/square inch ceiling.

Such high-density disks would more than double storage capacities in the first generation, the company said, up to 6TB for 3.5-inch drives and 2TB for 2.5-inch models.

"The technology offers a scale of capacity growth never before possible, with a theoretical areal density limit ranging from between 5 and 10TB/square inch, or 30TB to 60TB for 3.5-inch drives and 10TB to 20TB for 2.5-inch drives," the company said.

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User comments


I'll stop pointing out typos when you give us edit/delete functions for our comments. Anyone would think you wanted us to consider what we've written *before* we hit the submit button. This is not how the internet works!

By Mark_Thompson on 19 Mar 2012

Not that impressive ...

... at least, not the prediction of 60TB by 2030.

We already have 4TB drives and given that 60TB only 4 doublings of capacity that's about 7 years per doubling.

Had HD development gone at that rate since since development started we wouldn't even be up to 1GB on 3.5" drives, yet.

On the plus side, apart from 'Big Science' experiments, does anyone really NEED disks like this? 4TB will easily store the full, uncompressed, name and address of everyone on Earth or hold over 1,000 hours of HD video.

By qpw3141 on 20 Mar 2012

'does anyone really NEED disks like this?'
now, maybe not, but i seem to recall a salesman back in the mid 90's telling me i would never fill the 1.2GB hdd my £1300 PC had.

Also please feel free to insert Bill Gates' 640k quote/misquote

By thirdbrother3 on 20 Mar 2012


Will have killed the HDD by then.

By dubiou on 20 Mar 2012


LOL, I KNEW someone would bring up BG's faux pas.

Your two examples are a bit different to the situation now, though. In both cases most people who actually knew something about computing would have realised how daft the comments were. (It's odd that BG made that comment since he clearly does know something about computers - his BASIC compiler was very impressive given the resources available at the time.)

The money that HD manufacturers have to spend on research is paid for predicated on a model that involves people regularly upgrading their HD's (or PC's containing HD's) as new applications appear that need ever greater processor power and HD space. At one time those new applications were always there, waiting for bigger HD's and faster processors. For quite a few years now, though, that process has stalled. HD's are getting bigger, processors are mode capable, but there is no actual use for these enhancements for the vast majority of users.

I really do wonder for how much longer HD manufacturers are going to see any point or profit expanding capacities, even though it may well be technically possible.

By qpw3141 on 20 Mar 2012


Not according to an article that has been appearing in the 'interesting articles from around the web' list at the bottom of articles on this site.

According to that there are some fundamental problems with reliability as SSD capacities increase for which no technical fix is on the horizon.

By qpw3141 on 20 Mar 2012


"Not that impressive"
A comment like that perhaps just reflects a lack of tech knowledge and appreciation. I'm just going to point out that ANY feat of engineering allowing a significant advance is impressive, unless of course you believe it all happens magically evolving by itself if you just wait a few years. The possibility of 60TB on a single drive to me is outstanding. Comparing this to the early development of hdd technology when capacities were as low as 5-10MB on a drive the size of a planet does not validate your comment. It was easier then, because you only had to juggle 2 or 3 balls in order to get it working. That doesn't make it less impressive, because those engineers had to learn how to juggle. 40 years later though you have to juggle 1000 balls (I'm starting to wish I had gone with 'pins' for this analogy) and do it all without dropping a single one.

As to 'do we really need this'? Well I know I could certainly find a use for it. Films run at about 700-1000MB a pop for mere DVD-ish quality. In the future 1080p and beyond will be standard and require far greater quality and less lossy compression so I think 8GB per movie could easily become the norm. Games, TV series and documentaries, etc. etc. will consume even more space and that is just a video collection. Imagine what capacity the video editors working with raw footage need! Games and applications are all going the download route. Pictures will be 50 Megapixel plus. Everyone wants to preserve their media/software collections and projects in their own way - I know I do. Above we are just talking about consumer and some prefessional applications. I think the benefits to ISPs, government and big business are self explanatory.

By traxxion on 22 Mar 2012


SSD capacities are too low and the drives are still far too expensive despite this technology being pretty old. Also SSD's are not as reliable as they need to be. I wish it weren't true, but I think you have your answer right there.

By traxxion on 22 Mar 2012

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