Hitachi and others breaks storage capacity barriers

A number of storage technology breakthroughs were announced this week, including the doubling of hard disc and tape memory...

A number of storage technology breakthroughs were announced this week, including the doubling of hard disc and tape memory capacity, vendors said.

Hitachi has developed a technology that can more than double hard-disc memory density, said spokesman Gerry Corbett.

According to Corbett, the company will start shipping product samples as early as 2004.

Hitachi's technology, called perpendicular magnetic recording, increases storage per square inch of disk space to 107 gigabits, seven more gigabits than is now possible with that particular recording technology.

David Reinsel, research manager for hard drives at IDC, said the difference between traditional data storage and perpendicular magnetic recording is the polarity of the bits.

"The magnetisation for the traditional [recording] being left to right, where as perpendicular moves that polarity to north to south," he said. "Typically, when [the hard drive's head] is entering into the next bit there's a transition period. This eliminates that transition that had been there. It's going to require a different type of head to read it."

Reinsel said Hitachi's perpendicular magnetic recording breakthrough, which was announced a year ago, is significant for the future of storage, but not yet "ready for prime time".

"Horizontal technology still has a ways to go," he said.

Read-Rite also announced it has achieved 130 billion bits per square inch of hard-disc space using horizontal or longitudinal disk technology. That will enable consumers to record 134 full-length VHS motion pictures on a two-disc personal video recorder once the technology reaches the market.

"In less than three years, our skilled team of engineers and strategic partners pushed a real density levels over 950%, from 13.5 billion bits per square inch in July 1998 to today's achievement of 130 billion bits per square inch," Mark Re, senior vice-president of research and development at Read-Rite, said in a statement.

Sony said it has broken the record for tape storage density by achieving more than 11.5 gigabits per square inch of data storage on one square inch of tape. That nearly doubles the previous record of 6.5 gigabits per square inch.

Sony said in a statement that the breakthrough paves the way for its new S-AIT storage format, which will feature the industry's highest compressed capacity - more than 1TBytes per tape - when it debuts this autumn.

"This latest density breakthrough will allow the AIT and S-AIT architectures to progress in a parallel manner and achieve our current road maps," said Takao Hiramoto, president for the Server Solutions Company of Sony's Broadband Solutions Network.

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