Everything is going as I have forseen… well, almost. 1 terabyte drives are almost a reality! My original prediction was that the unholiest of relics, the 1 TB drive, would be unveiled on June 6, 2006 (6-6-06) and spawn the end of the world. Nazis will ride on dinosaurs and bring a new world order, the dead will walk the earth, and FOX will sign Elizabeth Taylor to her own reality show. How did I reach such a conclusion? Let me explain…
750 GB drives are now here, which is both a good and bad thing. The presence of these new drives in the market is lowering the price on “meager” 400 and 500GB drives to around $200. 250GB drives can now be had for around a hundred, and everything else can be had for under $100.
Hard drive capacities have been climbing higher and higher, and scientists have been butting heads with the laws of physics. One of these physical laws is the “super-paramagnetic effect”, which means when magnetized bits get too close to each other, they lose magnetism and essentially erase the bit on the platter. Scientists have employed several clever tricks to get around these physical laws, pushing data densities higher and higher. The latest of these techniques that makes terabyte drives possible is perpendicular recording.
Let’s get Perpendicular!
In March 2005, scientists demonstrated an areal density of 230 gigabits per square inch (Gb/in2) on perpendicular recording technology. This accomplishment represents a doubling of today’s highest data densities on longitudinal recording technology. Perpendicular recording is believed to be capable of delivering up to 10 times the storage density of longitudinal recording, on the same recording media. At the current rate of growth, we should see products with storage capacities of one terabyte (1 TB) on a 3.5-inch hard drive, and up to 20 gigabytes on a one-inch Microdrive.
Current hard disk technology with longitudinal recording has an estimated limit of 100 to 200 gigabit per square inch due to the Superparamagnetic effect. The Superparamagnetic effect is a phenomenon that occurs when the microscopic magnetic grains on the disk become so tiny that they interfere with one another, thus losing their ability to hold their magnetic orientations. The result is “flipped bits” – bits whose magnetic north and south poles suddenly and spontaneously reverse – that corrupt data, rendering it and the storage device unreliable and thus unusable.