Hard drive technology breaks storage density record

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Sunday, April 10, 2005

Hitachi and Toshiba are racing to bring "perpendicular recording" computer hard drive storage to market first. 2004 file photo does not depict the actual drive described in the accompanying article

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, the San Jose, California-based joint venture of Japanese storage vendor Hitachi and U.S. technology giant IBM, has set a new record for storage density at 230 gigabits per square inch (Gb/in2). The company has developed technology to implement a recording method known as perpendicular recording, which allowed the increase in density above the current ~130 Gb/in2 limit.

Techworld claims there is a race between Hitachi and Toshiba for who will get the first drives to market which use the technology. According to Hitachi, they expect, "to ship [their] first perpendicular recording product in 2005 on a 2.5-inch hard drive". Toshiba is also planning to ship a drive in 2005 that uses perpendicular recording.

According to Techworld, Toshiba will ship an 80 GB, 1.8" drive in 2005. Toshiba's 1.8" drives are used in portable electronic devices such as Apple's iPod, which is currently available in sizes 60 GB and smaller.

While all commercially available hard drives to date use longitudinal recording, perpendicular recording has roots in research done in academic circles over 100 years ago.

Hitachi Tech has produced a Flash animation that explains the rudiments of perpendicular recording in a music-video style.

Inspired by the 1970s Schoolhouse Rock series of educational animation shorts, the flash movie features whimsical moments with data bits and disk platters that speak and sing (not possible with today's technology), it also contains realistic details. Of no importance to the viewer, but perhaps of interest to some, the animation shows Texas Instruments' UC5608DWP chips visible briefly in the background. While TI's UC5608DWP 18-line SCSI terminator chips have been made obsolete by the new UCC5618, the chips are indeed designed for use in hard drives.

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