Mechanical roadmap points to hard drives over 100TB by 2025

If you want to know what the future of hard drives holds, the Advanced Storage Technology Consortium is probably a good place to start. Otherwise known as the ASTC, the group was founded by a collection of industry heavyweights that includes HGST, Seagate, and WD. It's billed as a "forum for collaborative joint R&D efforts," giving its projections credible weight.

According to the ATSC's latest roadmap, mechanical storage densities will increase at an accelerated rate starting in a few years, when heat-assisted and bit-patterned recording kick into gear. The good times will supposedly continue until at least 2025, when areal densities should be high enough to enable 100TB hard drives.

Source: ASTC

Right now, we're in perpendicular territory, with areal densities under 1Tb/in². Shingled magnetic recording has already appeared in datacenter drives optimized for cold storage. Along with two-dimensional recording, a similar and potentially complementary approach, shingled tech looks poised to drive density scaling until at least 2017. That's when heat-assisted hotness is slated to take over, the crystal ball says.

If the ASTC's projections are accurate, heat-assisted and bit-patterned recording will combine around 2021, pushing areal densities up to 10Tb/in² by 2025. In a four-platter consumer unit like Seagate's Desktop HDD.15 4TB, which packs only 625Gb/in², that density would theoretically fuel 64TB of storage. Well over 100TB would be possible with a seven-platter monster like HGST's enterprise-oriented Ultrastar He8.

Now, the ASTC's members won't necessarily hit all of their targets—a lot can happen over the course of a decade. But this is the plan as it stands right now. Kudos to Forbes contributor Tom Coughlin for being the first to publish the roadmap.

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