Drive makers split over future storage tech

— 1:43 AM on August 25, 2006

Perpendicular recording technology is the next evolutionary step for hard drives, with Seagate's Barracuda 7200.10 leading the pack on the desktop. But what about four to five years down the line? According to a report by CNet, the industry is currently split between two different technologies that promise to continue increasing platter densities once perpendicular recording hits a ceiling. Seagate wants to implement a technology called heat-assisted magnetic recording, which would involve using cells of iron-platinum grains instead of the cobalt-platinum grains used today to represent bits. The technology would employ a laser to heat bits and change their value.

On the other side of the fence, Hitachi thinks changing grain materials and using lasers involves too many hurdles. The world's number two hard drive maker instead wants to implement a technology dubbed patterned media, which would cut down the number of cobalt-platinum grains that represent each bit from 100 to one. The grains would be bigger and isolated from each other, but each bit would take up less room overall. This technology would have its own drawbacks, like the added cost of using lithography instead of film coating to create the grain patterns. At the moment, CNet says neither Hitachi nor Seagate is close to having working samples of their respective technologies.

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