Safely dense

— 7:01 PM on March 30, 2005

PC World has a story on Hitachi's 7K500 drive, a SATA-II beast with a 16MB cache and 500GB capacity. Priced at $1/GB, the drive not only tests the limits of even the most storage-hungry consumer, but of the storage technology itself. The 7K500's 250GB platters are believed to be close to the maximum density that can be stored safely, using conventional recording methods.

The article goes on to explain how the industry is working on new technology to wring more data from the same amount of space. Perhaps taking a cue from the hot zones where many drives are made, manufacturers are going vertical, to pack in bits in as tightly as the people who make them. Rather than storing each magnetic bit end-to-end, the ''perpendicular'' storage method will place each bit side-by-side, allowing more bits to be packed into the same surface area.

While capacity demands appear to be satisfied, searching a drive of great size may be a difficult task, and so far storage companies have offered little to help consumers gather the wheat among the terabytes.

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