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Seagate claims record storage density of one terabit per square inch, conveniently forgets about bit-patterned media

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Seagate has set a record for heat-assisted magnetic recording capacity of 1 terabit per square inch, but bit-patterned media techniques have achieved far greater capacity already. Neither are in production yet.

Seagate Hard Drive
Seagate Hard Drive

Solid state drives are far faster than magnetic hard drives, and those spinning platters may not have a capacity advantage forever. Experts seem to agree that the current perpendicular recording technique for hard drives won't last past a theoretical maximum density of one terabit per square inch, and recent 3TB and 4TB drives are already consuming 625 gigabits per square inch, so there's not a whole lot of room to grow there. There are two favored techniques for expanding beyond that capacity, though, and one of them just got a shot in the arm: hard drive manufacturer Seagate says it's demonstrated a full 1Tb / in² areal density using heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology. Basically, Seagate uses a laser to heat a microscopic portion of the disc so that more data can be written than the regular temperature would allow, a technique which the company says could quickly yield 6TB 3.5-inch hard drives, and 2TB 2.5-inch ones, before growing to theoretical capacities of up to 60TB for a drive assuming a 10Tb / in² yield.

That may sound pretty neat, but it's not exactly a record demonstration, as the competing bit-patterned media (BPM) technique has shown: by lithographically printing magnetic cells (rather than the traditional hard drive's magnetic grains) onto a disc's surface, researchers at a university in Singapore managed to demonstrate a far greater areal density of 3.3Tbit / in² last year. We'll just have to see how quickly Seagate plans to put its HAMR plans in motion: "later this decade" is as soon as the company is willing to promise right now.