Coming to your laptop: 1.2TB hard drives

Two-platter, 2.5 inch drives are expected around 2010

As hard drive manufacturers relentlessly pursue packing greater aerial density on smaller devices, Fujitsu Computer Products of America may have an ace in the hole. The company is announcing later this week that it has created ideally "ordered" alumina nanohole patterns for isolated bit-by-bit recording on a large disk area.

With that feat, Fujitsu says it has successfully demonstrated the ability to perform basic read/write capability of each individual nanohole of the patterned media using a typical flying head on a rotating disk. That breakthrough could lead the company to produce hard drives with storage capacities of up to 1.2TB on a two-platter, 2.5-in. drive as soon as 2010, noted Joel Hagberg, vice president of business development at Fujitsu Computer Products of America, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo-based Fujitsu.

The construction of ideally ordered alumina nanohole patterned media was done through a collaboration between Fujitsu Computer Products of America, Yamagata Fujitsu Ltd. and Kanagawa Academy of Science and Technology. The achievement is published in the July online version of Applied Physics Letters.

The patterned alumina nanohole media was created via a Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) processes using nano-imprint lithography (enabling discrete distance from bit to bit or track to track), anodic oxidation and cobalt electrodeposition at a density of 100-nanometer-pitch nanoholes suitable to existing head technology.

Ideal pattern technology is a big step toward ensuring that drives won't face challenges recording at higher aerial densities by moving to tighter track densities and closer spacing among bits, Hagberg noted. However, to pull that off, he said, a number of factors still need to be examined. They include the presence of pattern thermal assist recording technology to warm media before it is written to, determining what magnetic flux is required from the head and determining how will the information be read.

Because smaller hard drives offer less power consumption and cooling efforts than their larger counterparts, hard disk drive end users and businesses want the best of both worlds -- minimized drives capable of reaching higher capacity points, said John Rydning, an analyst at IDC.

"[Fujitsu's achievement] allows especially the smaller form factors to reach pretty high capacities. From a business-requirement standpoint, one advantage that brings is the opportunity to use smaller drives for applications, and smaller drives tend to use less power," remarked Rydning. "That kind of technology is definitely what's needed to get [improved storage] requirements."

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Brian Fonseca

Computerworld

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