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Data Storage Technology

The Limits To Perpendicular Recording 222

Posted by kdawson
from the moore-was-a-piker dept.
peterkern writes "Samsung has a new hard drive and says it can now store 667 GB on one disk, which comes out to be about 739 Gb/sq. in. That is more than five times the density when perpendicular recording was introduced back in 2006, and it is getting close to the generally expected soft limit of 1 Tb/sq. in. It's great that we can now store 2 TB on one hard drive and that 3-TB hard drives are already feasible. But how far can it go? It appears that the hard drive industry may start talking about heat-assisted magnetic recording again, soon."
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The Limits To Perpendicular Recording

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  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @04:32PM (#33130670) Homepage
    When the only tool you have is a HAMR, everything looks like a nail.
  • by Jazz-Masta (240659) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @04:33PM (#33130688)

    A simple video to explain perpendicular recording!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xb_PyKuI7II

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      "I'm dancing! I'm dancing!"

      I wonder if the guys who made Borderlands had seen this video.

  • TFA is unreadable. (Score:5, Informative)

    by FooAtWFU (699187) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @04:35PM (#33130716) Homepage

    However, more density also provides a way to higher capacity 3.5" drives, which means that Samsung is now able to build 2.7 GB and 3.3 GB hard drives with four or five disks, respectively. Such drives are rather unlikely however, as we would expect the density to grow to 750 GB per disk, which could enable 4-disk 3 GB drives.

    Oh, wow, a 3-gigabyte drive! How futuristic!

    Seriously, what sort of monkey messed the article up this badly?

    • by Jazz-Masta (240659) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @04:38PM (#33130740)

      However, more density also provides a way to higher capacity 3.5" drives, which means that Samsung is now able to build 2.7 GB and 3.3 GB hard drives with four or five disks, respectively. Such drives are rather unlikely however, as we would expect the density to grow to 750 GB per disk, which could enable 4-disk 3 GB drives.

      Oh, wow, a 3-gigabyte drive! How futuristic!

      Seriously, what sort of monkey messed the article up this badly?

      This is slashdot, in the 12 years I've been wasting time here, I am more surprised when they get a story with all of the facts, spelling and concepts correct!

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      Oh, wow, a 3-gigabyte drive! How futuristic!
      Seriously, what sort of monkey messed the article up this badly?

      Yeah, seriously. I thought we agreed on using Gibibytes from now on, right?
      I actually make the TB/GB mistake regularly, and people either don't catch it, inserting TB because they know I'm talking about a low (<10) number or they just don't bother to mention it because they can reason out what I meant. That's one of the nice things about having 1000 or 1024 as a separation point in the naming hierarchy.

  • by elohel (1582481) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @04:36PM (#33130728)
    Most of the time I never comment on how dumb a synopsis is...but HOLY SHIT. I had to log in and comment to just complain about how terrible this is. NEWS FLASH: Technology has finite limits! In other news, fire is hot and humans eat food. More at 11. "It appears the industry may start talking about heat-assisted magnetic recording again, soon." Thanks for actually saying nothing. Your comments to the article are completely useless. This is one of the reasons why slashdot gets on my nerves, what useless junk.
  • by MankyD (567984) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @04:37PM (#33130730) Homepage
    Stop making it bigger! Start making it faster!
    • That what she said.

      only visa versa..

      • by gringer (252588)

        That what she said.
        only visa versa

        Is that when she spends exactly the same amount you saved on your credit card?

    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @04:40PM (#33130774) Journal

      That's what the SSD market does.

    • by Kenoli (934612)
      The real performance boost comes from higher capacity drives. If you want fast, just get two.

      Oh wait..
    • by toastar (573882) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @04:47PM (#33130894)

      Stop making it bigger! Start making it faster!

      What about harder and stronger?

    • by EdZ (755139) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @04:50PM (#33130916)
      No, make it bigger! Bring back 5.25" form factor drives!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

        No, make it bigger! Bring back 5.25" form factor drives!

        If they made them cheap enough, I would buy 6TB quantum bigfoots for archival purposes.

        • by Znork (31774)

          With the surface area of a 5.25" drive and today's densities you could probably fit 10-20TB in them. I'd definitely buy several if they had an attractive price of around 30-50% of 3.5" price/GB. Speed isn't much of an issue and if it were I'd go with striped SSD's or simply more RAM anyway, but sheer storage capacity is never enough, and if it ever becomes enough, I can certainly use up even more by expanding redundancy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Why not do both in separate product lines? Kinda like what they're already going right this very moment. If I want a lot of stuff in one place, I buy hard drives. If I want a small amount of stuff accessed very quickly, I buy SSDs. One division increasing capacity doesn't stop an entirely different division from increasing performance. And those SSDs are increasing in size pretty quickly. The Vertex 2 Pro is up to 240 gigs for under $700. Wasn't long ago that the tiniest, crappiest-performing SSD cos

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by petermgreen (876956)

        The Vertex 2 Pro is up to 240 gigs for under $700. Wasn't long ago that the tiniest, crappiest-performing SSD cost that much. Now that's the price of the biggest and fastest.
        I can't comment on fastest but it's far from the biggest. You can get 512GB and 1TB SSDs (though the 1TB ones are desktop form factor) now but the price is insane.

        In another year, the $/gig ratio will be even better along with performance.
        I sure hope so

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TeknoHog (164938)
      That's what She SaiD.
    • by tknd (979052)

      No, keep making it bigger. When we had floppy disks, it easy to fill up your floppy disks with documents. With hard drives, that became much harder so hard drives made document storage nearly infinite. As computers got faster, we started listening to mp3s and taking pictures. But it was still possible to fill up your hard drive with mp3s or pictures. The drives kept getting bigger and now at about 2TB, I'd think it would be pretty hard for most people to fill that up with mp3s or pictures, so now for music,

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by fishbowl (7759)

        There should be factors of human proportions that limit the need for exponentially increasing growth at some point.

        Human perception in audio has already been passed both in frequency and dynamic domains. Static images are reaching that threshold, and we do already have lossless encodings that pass it. Motion pictures will be the next threshold, and then I suppose holography. So there goes my argument that we can limit the need for exponential growth, oh well.

        I think it's funny that you can probably store

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by EvanED (569694)

          Static images are reaching that threshold, and we do already have lossless encodings that pass it.

          I'm not going to comment on resolution, but in terms of dynamic range, I don't think we're anywhere near limits of human perception. Certainly not in anything that approaches a consumer-level device.

    • by nizo (81281) *

      Forget both those, how about more reliable?

    • Actually, I think they should concentrate on making hard drives even bigger, for example, returning to 5.25" size with modern technologies (perpendicular recording etc). A hard drive with 8-16 5.25" platters would have quite high capacity (probably 10-20TB). Also, linear speed would still be pretty fast (the edge of a 5.25" platter spinning at 5400RPM travels about as fast as the edge of a 3.5" platter spinning at 8000RPM)

      Oh, and I would buy a smaller, faster drive (say 146GB-300GB, 15000RPM) for stuff like

  • SQUID's next? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tisha_AH (600987) <Tisha.Hayes@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @04:38PM (#33130742) Journal
    There is only so much you can pack into little magnetic domains. It is dependent upon how small of a grain (dust speck) you can individually magnetize, signal/noise ratio to read back that magnetic field and the sensitivity of the pickup head. I can see the day coming when there is a small near-room-temperature superconductor (SQUID) pickup head to do read/write operations. The tradeoff is going to be when you get that small, a single cosmic ray particle can flip a 1 to a 0.
    • by jandrese (485)
      I thought the downside was the need to keep a tank of liquid nitrogen nearby to cool the heads down to superconducting temperatures?

      "Near room temperature" superconductors typically still need to be well below zero to operate. Until we get one that can operate at 100C, this idea is a nonstarter for all but maybe some kind of industrial or scientific application.
      • 100C is awful hot.

  • by mlts (1038732) * on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @04:38PM (#33130744)

    There are other technologies that I'm sure HDD makers have waiting in the wings. If areal density doesn't go up fast enough, I'm sure that HDD makers will go back to stacking platters, and we will start seeing fatter 2.5" drives. Perhaps even a return of Bigfoot drives, or double-height 2.5" drives as a new form factor. Of course, these drives will have to have some engineering done to keep performance.

    I can see a full height 5.25", a monstrosity these days, but inside it would have a bunch of tiered storage with the controller doing the work and multiple caches using not just DRAM, but flash RAM, and wise positioning of data (more commonly accessed stuff closer to the spindle for example.)

    This is the last resort of drive makers, but I'm sure if nothing else pans out to keep capacities growing, they will start adding platters.

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see why they've been moving to smaller 2.5" drives anyway (except for the notebook market, where obviously small size is important), instead of sticking with larger 5.25" drives. There's a lot more area on a 5.25" platter, plus if you spin it at the same speed, the tracks at the outer edge are traveling faster and thus can be read/written faster, resulting in higher bandwidth.

      The main disadvantages I can see are 1) higher materials cost, since you need a bigger chun

      • by mlts (1038732) *

        Two disadvantages: The time it takes to move the head from the inside to the outside, and the time it takes for the drive to physically rotate the data to the head. Computers work in nanoseconds and faster. Drives have millisecond access time which is millions of times slower if one doesn't factor in caching. This is why seek algorithms and finding the best path for a drive head to pick data up from tracks is so important on a HDD.

        With advances in hierarchical storage, I can see a half height 5.25" driv

      • The problem is the forces involved with a spinning disc get much worse with diameter.

        The moment of inertia of a cylinder (of constant thickness and density) is proportional to the fourth power of the diameter. Afaict (read: i'm trying to do calculus in my head here) the centripetal force required to hold the cylinder together is proportional to the cube of the diameter and proportional to the square of the angular velocity (spin speed).

  • SSDs are the future (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bzzfzz (1542813) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @04:41PM (#33130784)

    I think a more realistic assessment is that the rate of growth in hard disk densities will decline.

    We've had a recent article on the shortcomings of SSDs, but I think the maturity of hard disk technology and the minimum cost posed by the complicated mechanical design will make hard disks obsolete for most applications in a few more years. Hey, people thought 3.5" disks would be here forever, too.

    • Oh there's no doubt that they'll be obsolete eventually, the question is really just when. Will there be a big breakthrough in the next 5 years? Or will it take 20, 30, 50?

      When you look at investing in things like backups - or how to keep up with competitive standards - a timeline is good to know. You might get the cheap hard drive option knowing that SSD's will have matured in the next few years - or if it's going to take a long time for them to overcome hard drives, you might invest in something you know

    • by Surt (22457)

      Let me know when you can no longer buy a 3.5" disk at fry's. Look forward to hearing from you.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Except that no one ever uses them any more, except perhaps for weird old equipment which has built-in 3.5" drives (such as many 10-20 year-old oscilloscopes). Except for cases like that, no one uses them on PCs any more as they are completely obsoleted by 1) networks, 2) USB drives, and 3) other Flash media like xD/SD.

        3.5" disks were obsolete long before people finally gave them up in favor of CD-RWs, networks and USB drives, but the industry never standardized on a replacement, and instead had a bunch of

    • but I think the maturity of hard disk technology and the minimum cost posed by the complicated mechanical design will make hard disks obsolete for most applications in a few more years.

      Such has been the claim for easily more than a decade and yet HDDs are still around.

      Hey, people thought 3.5" disks would be here forever, too.

      Since when did they leave? Floppy drives [newegg.com] and floppy disks [frys.com].

    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      Not until someone starts pumping some research Dollars into that technology. Right now, SSDs are developing at a glacial pace. If they seriously want to displace HDDs they'll need four times the density, four times the longevity and one quarter the price. Or the same properties as today and one tenth the price.

      SSDs are great for certain applications and less great for others. Unfortunately for the SSD makers, the main application many users have is "I need lots of cheap storage", which current SSDs are ho
  • I remember when processor MHz ratings went from 566 to 600 to 633 to 667. On this disk when they achieved the 666th Gb, it wasn't good enough to report until the 667th was reached, barely squeaking over the bar.

  • More than feasible (Score:4, Informative)

    by davmoo (63521) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @05:32PM (#33131496)

    From the summary:

    It's great that we can now store 2 TB on one hard drive and that 3-TB hard drives are already feasible.

    3TB drives are already well past "feasible". Seagate has one for sale in the form of the STAC3000100 FreeAgent GoFlex Desk. Its an enclosure with a single SATA 3TB hard drive. The reason its currently only available as an external drive is because most motherboards will not support a boot drive that large, hence not a lot of reason to offer it as an internal yet.

    • by Fumus (1258966)

      most motherboards will not support a boot drive that large

      Do you mean it won't boot if the main partition is 3TB or if the whole drive is 3TB? Because if it's the first, then no sane person has just one partition on a hard drive that big so it's a non-problem.

      • So you're saying 2 TB aught to be enough for anybody?

      • by davmoo (63521)

        Its my understanding, and someone correct me if I'm wrong, the whole drive will not work with most current hardware. It has to do with LBA, 64-bit addressing, yadda yadda yadda.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by guruevi (827432)

      It's not that motherboards won't support it, it's that Windows (even 7) won't support it. You CANNOT boot Windows from a disk with GPT. You also CANNOT boot Windows (7) on most EFI systems.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rdebath (884132)

      Ooooh. Can of worms time.

      The problem is that a drive of two real terabytes (not marketing terabytes) is one 512byte sector too large for a normal MBR partition table. So you have to switch over to something else; Windows uses a GPT style partition table.

      Unfortunately the committee who designed GPT were dumb (Some of the members must have been smart though, you can easily work around every dumb choice I've seen). A current BIOS doesn't know anything about partition tables and it has no problem with driv

  • by Mojo66 (1131579)
    739 Gb/sq.in. equals

    106416 Gb/sq.ft.
    957744 GB/sq.yd
    2966707814400 Gb/sq.mile

    It also equals
    1.145452290904 GB/sq.mm
    114.5452290904 GB/sq.cm
    1145452.290904 GB/sq.m
    1145452290904 GB/sq.km

  • "Where do you back it up?" is what I ask my customers. If you buy a terabyte sized hard drive, what's your solution if it fails? Presumably you bought it so you could store zillions of pictures, MP3s and movies on the thing... how badly will your day be ruined if it fails?

    Drives that big, you buy them in pairs, one mirrored to the other.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by EvanED (569694)

      Drives that big, you buy them in pairs, one mirrored to the other.

      If my "mirrored" you mean "RAID 1", I would say that barely counts as a backup. There are essentially three or four substantial threats for why you need a backup, and RAID 1 protects you against just one of them. (If you're counting, the four threats are (1) drive failure, (2) your power supply committing murder-suicide and taking out your drives, (3) your house burning down or computer being destroyed (you can combine 2&3 if you want), (

      • by spitzak (4019)

        I don't think the GP meant RAID when saying "mirroring", he actually meant "make 2 copies of your data, one on each disk".

        I agree this does not protect against a disaster that affects both drives because they are in the same box.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rdebath (884132)

        Except, it can take quite a while to sync two drives of this size. So you will probably find that the second drive spends at least half it's time sitting next to the primary drive.

        You actually need THREE drives so one of they is always a safe backup.

        The actual rules:

        1. Make a Backup.
        2. Make it safe.
          eg: offsite
        3. Keep it safe.
          eg: THE backup must stay offsite, it only comes back when it's not THE backup.
    • 1) Do you need to back up absolutely everything? Are many of your giant files just ripped from your DVD collection, or re-downloadable? I've got a 1TB data drive and use my "old" 500GB for backup, and it's got plenty of room for the portion that actually needs backing up.

      2) They're cheap. A 1TB drive is like $60 nowadays. Getting a drive smaller than that will probably be higher bytes-per-dollar, so might as well get two of the same if you don't have an older one handy. And like the others have said, m

  • For a good while now the size of drives has been mostly meaningless to me. I don't store any movies or music. My current XP installation, with MS Office and Eclipse, takes up about 10 GB. I'm much more interested in "fast" than I am "big".

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