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HDD data density to hit 2.4Tb/in² 'by 2014'

15TB 3.5in drive, anyone?

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World+Dog may have its eye on solid-state storage, but hard disk engineering isn't going to run out of steam any time soon. Disks capable of holding an amazing 2.4 trillion bits in each square inch of their surface are coming within the next five years, an industry executive has forecast.

Speaking at Japan's Information Terminal Festival this week, Hitachi Global Storage product planning chief Tetsuya Kokubo said we'll see 2.4Tb/in² HDD data densities in 2013 or 2014.

Today's 3.5in hard drives have a data density of around 400Gb/in². According to Kokubo, that'll rise to 600Gb/in² over the next 12 months or so, then double to 1.2Tb/in² in 2011-2012.

Less than two years later, we could see 3TB-per-platter drives on the market - 15TB of storage with a five-platter drive.

Delivering that capacity will be the job of new techniques for recording bits on each platter's surface. Kokubo pointed to the use of "patterned media" and "discrete track media", Nikkei's Tech-On reports.

The former involves creating a grid of holes on the disk's surface, each holding a discrete amount of magnetic material storing a single bit of data. The discrete track technique establishes concentric or spiral rings of recording area separated from other rings by grooves.

That's just the storage - reading and writing the data will require ever smaller, more accurately positioned read/write heads, with the current single-pivot actuator arms on which the heads are mounted replaced by multi-joint arms. ®

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