View Full Version : Computers Hard drive density about to get six times higher

Mr. Laz
10-14-2011, 07:24 PM
By Evan Ackerman (http://dvice.com/archives/author/evan_ackerman)
8:37PM on Oct 14, 2011

The salty secret to bigger hard drives

http://dvice.com/assets_c/2011/10/table_salt_HDD-thumb-550xauto-73585.jpg (http://dvice.com/archives/2011/10/the-salty-secre.php)
Thanks to table salt, drive density is about to get six times higher

Every time it seems like we're starting to run out of hard drive space, some genius comes along and invents a way to cram more data (http://dvice.com/archives/2010/11/the-bacteria-in.php) onto those spinning magnetic platters. But as far as we know, this is the first time that it's also involved making said platters even tastier than they already are.

The key to making bigger hard drives is stuffing more little magnetic bits onto a given area of disk. The way it works right now is that there are a bunch of randomly scattered nanoscopic magnetic grains, and a pile of ten or twenty of these grains are used to form one bit of data. These piles can get together to hold 0.5 terabit per square inch of info, but they're kinda random, and not patterned efficiently onto the disk.

Instead of using random piles, a team from Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) has been able to do the same thing with slightly larger grains that can store data in one single structure instead of a haphazard jumble of smaller grains, allowing them to stuff more bits in the same amount of space. The secret to doing this, it turns out, was adding a solution of regular table salt to part of the manufacturing process, which allowed for much higher resolution fabrication.

Using this new method, the IMRE team has been able to manufacture bit densities of up to 3.3 terabits per square inch, meaning that we're looking at storing six times as much data on hard drives of the same size. Man, just imagine the possibilities with that much storage space. Imagine it.
I'll be in my bunk.

The new method also eliminates some of the usual manufacturing processes associated with creating disk platters. In the abstract (http://iopscience.iop.org/0957-4484/22/38/385301/) of the paper Yang and his team published on the results, he wrote, “By avoiding pattern transfer processes such as etching and liftoff that inherently reduce pattern fidelity, the resolution of the final pattern was kept close to that of the lithographic step.”

Perhaps the biggest advantage of Yang's approach is that it uses the same sort of equipment and technology currently used to create disk media.

Other efforts to improve magnetic storage density, such as thermally-assisted magnetic recording (http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2010/05/new-hard-drive-write-method-packs-in-one-terabyte-per-inch.ars) (also know as heat-assisted magnetic recording, or HAMR) and nano-contact magnetic resistance (http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2011/10/Nanocontact%20Magnetic%20Resistance) can in theory generate much higher disk densities, but require new manufacturing equipment and are consequently much more expensive to produce.

Press Release (http://www.imre.a-star.edu.sg/fckeditor/uploadfiles/Packing%20in%20more%20bytes%20using%20salt_111011_clean%20%282%29.pdf), via Physorg (http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-10-storage-density-table-salt.html)