IBM busts drive barrier with "pixie dust"

— 12:41 AM on May 22, 2001

No, the engineers aren't snorting it. The "pixie dust" in question is actually, well, a precious metal:

It's a three-atom thick layer of ruthenium, a precious metal similar to platinum, sandwiched between two magnetic layers. Scientists at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose have dubbed the layer "pixie dust."
Scientists at IBM's Alamden Research Center in San Jose need to get out more.

But they have come up with a real magnetic storage breakthrough:

Technically, the coating is called "antiferromagnetically-coupled (AFC) media." It addresses the problem of a so-called "superparamagnetic effect," in which data gets lost when the magnetic regions of a disk get too small.

With the new design, hard-disk drives will be able to hold up to 100 billion bits of data per square inch. Current methods would have maxed out at 20 to 40 billion bits of data per square inch, which is close to the density of disk drives in use today, IBM said.

Ready for a 400GB hard drive? (No doubt the IDE version will be just as fast as the SCSI one, but cheaper.) Higher densities means higher performance as well as higher capacity, by the way. I just wonder what we'll do for backup solutions.

Oh, and thanks to Jarred for sending along the link.

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