Toshiba has announced what it calls a breakthrough in magnetic storage - bit-patterned media - which the company claims will result in massive storage improvements for future hard drives.
According to pre-announcement coverage by iTworld
, Toshiba's new technology uses bit-patterned media - disk platters covered in microscopic spheres of magnetic material, rather than a uniform coating - to store vastly more quantities of data than is currently possible on traditional magnetic storage drives.
While research into the same technology has been carried out before - even to the point of the creation of prototypes - Toshiba claims that its work represents the first time a prototype device has been created with the magnetic spheres aligned in a specific pattern. Without this alignment - missing from previous prototypes - it becomes impossible to find where particular data are stored, meaning the technology has never been usable as a product before.
While Toshiba's work is a long way from shop shelves - with the company claiming that the first products based around the technology won't be available until at least 2013 - the company appears a lot closer to success than most: as well as the alignment, Toshiba's prototype has been able to gather "usable signals
" from data stored on the magnetic spheres via a specially constructed read-write head.
The reason for the company's efforts is simple: current magnetic media tops out at a data density of around 541Gb per square inch, but the bit-patterned prototype is already achieving densities equivalent to 2.5Tb per square inch - five times greater.
Should Toshiba succeed in commercialising the technology, it will have a head-start in producing ultra-high-capacity storage drives for those who need terabytes of data at their beck and call.
Are you amazed that such a massive leap in storage density is possible, or will you believe it when Toshiba launches its first 2.5in 10TB hard drive? Are you just surprised to see a storage company that hasn't put all its research money into SSD technology? Share your thoughts on Toshiba's work over in the forums