March 22, 2012, 5:34 PM —
Seagate has announced it has found a way to burn down a barrier other hard-drive makers are still trying to push their way through.
Late last week Seagate demonstrated a prototype of a hard-drive that records data using heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) to pack a trillion bits per square inch onto a hard disk.
HAMR is a technique invented in the mid-'50s to increase the capacity of tape, which Seagate has been touting as the Next Big Thing in storage since at least 2002.
So far HAMR has finished every race trailing Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR), which became the de facto industry standard in 2006, but will reach its own physical limits at around 1 trillion bits-per-inch sometime during the next few years.
Seagate predicts the capacity of HAMR could reach 50 times that of PMR because, when it runs up against the same limitation in the material used for the surface of hard drives, it changes the material.
Storage capacity increases when the mechanism recording it can make the individual bits of data occupy less space on a magnetic disk. The smaller the bit, the more powerful the magnetic field has to be to imprint it well enough that it won't scramble or fade before being used.