Fujitsu claims disk drive density breakthrough

Japanese manufacturer Fujitsu has developed a new read/write disk head technology which will enable hard disk drive recording densities of up to 300G bits per square inch, the company said Wednesday.

An increase in recording densities leads to notebook and desktop computers with higher storage capacities, usually for only a slight increase in price.

Current 2.5-inch hard disks can store around 30G bytes per disk platter. When Fujitsu commercializes its new disk head technology in two to four years' time it will lead to capacities of 180G bytes per platter, six times current capacities, Fujitsu said in a statement.

The breakthrough technology is known as Current-Perpendicular-to-Plane mode Giant Magneto-Resistive (CPP-GMR) heads, which are more sensitive to signals and can read and write data bits three times more compactly than existing GMR heads, which are characterized as Current-in-Plane mode.

Fujitsu expects to commercially produce drives based on CPP-GMR heads within two years for use in PCs and notebook computers, and particularly in the expected boom market for disk-drive-based consumer electronics products such as game consoles and personal video recorders (PVRs).

The high capacity of 2.5-inch hard disk drives will eventually make the bulkier 3.5-inch desktop drive form factor obsolete, Fujitsu said.

Disk storage capacity has improved even faster than processing power over the last decade, according to the International Disk Drive Equipment Manufacturers Association (IDEMA).

But manufacturers have found it hard to turn their technical expertise into profit. The price of hard disk storage has fallen from US$11.54 per megabyte in 1988 to $0.01 per megabyte today, and the number of independent manufacturers has dropped from 75 to 13, IDEMA said.

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