Maxtor claims to have demonstrated a way to double hard disc recording density without adding significantly to the manufacturing cost.
The system, which uses Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR), can achieve areal densities equivalent to 175Gbytes per platter compared with the existing standard of 80Gbytes per platter produced by Longitudinal Magnetic Recording (LMR).
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The PMR manufacturing process, which uses the same equipment as the LMR process, has been demonstrated by Maxtor's wholly-owned subsidiary MMC Technology.
The difference between LMR and PMR can be thought of as recording each data bit on a matchstick lying down (LMR) or standing on end (PMR). The more compact and efficient PMR process requires a recording medium with smaller grains of material, a special soft underlay (SUL) layer and electronics capable of producing a better signal-to-noise ratio.
These advances can be mass-produced using existing equipment, Maxtor said, with just an incremental cost for making media with a suitable SUL.
Maxtor did not say when production drives incorporating PMR would be released.
The disc drive industry continues to grapple with expanding customer demand for storage at lower cost. The amount of disk storage sold is predicted to increase by 50% a year over the next three years, but industry revenue will only grow by 0.8% ayear as the price per gigabyte will drop from $40 in 2002 to $8 in 2006, according to Matt Massengill, chairman and chief executive officer of Western Digital, speaking at an industry event in May.
David Legard writes for IDG News Service