Hitachi spins 4TB hard drive

Storage capacities will increase fourfold with new method for cramming data onto disks

Simon Aughton
15 Oct 2007

Hitachi has unveiled a new read-head technology for hard disk drives, which it says will increase storage capacity fourfold. That means drives of up to to 4TB in desktop computers and 1TB in notebooks.

The increase has been made possible by the development of current perpendicular-to-the-plane giant magnetoresistive (CPP-GMR) heads of between 30 and 50 nanometers; current TMR drive heads are around 70nm.

Hitachi believes the new heads will be able to write between 500Gb and 1Tb per square inch of disk surface, four times the data density possible with current drive technologies.

The technology behind CPP-GMR is nothing new, but as drive makers have tried to squeeze more data onto disks its drawbacks have become increasingly evident. Specifically, as the head is made smaller, electrical resistance increases, which in turn increases the noise output and compromises the head's ability to correctly read the data signal.

Hitachi's breakthrough was to add a high electron-spin-scattering magnetic film to increase the signal output from the head and combine it with a new technology for damage-free fine patterning and noise suppression.

The result will be a new age of unlimited storage. "Hitachi continues to invest in deep research for the advancement of hard disk drives as we believe there is no other technology capable of providing the hard drive's high-capacity, low-cost value for the foreseeable future," says says Hiroaki Odawara, research director at Hitachi. "This is an achievement for consumers as much as it is for Hitachi. It allows Hitachi to fuel the growth of the 'Terabyte Era' of storage, which we started, and gives consumers virtually limitless ability for storing their digital content."

Recording heads with 50nm track widths are expected to debut in commercial products in 2009 and those with 30nm track widths will be introduced two years later.

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