Hitachi has much more to celebrate than the birth of the hard drive, which happened 50 years ago today in San Jose, California. The company is also celebrating an areal density 1 achievement of 345 gigabits per square inch (Gbits/sq. in.) using perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology. This areal density, demonstrated in laboratory testing, represents an increase of more than two-and-a-half times the areal density of today’s highest-capacity products.By 2009, Hitachi predicts that 345 Gbits/sq. in. would result in a two-terabyte (TB) 3.5-inch desktop drive, a 400-gigabyte (GB) 2.5-inch notebook drive or a 200-GB 1.8-inch drive 2 . In the first half of 2007, Hitachi expects to bring hard drive areal density half way to the 345 Gbits/sq. in. mark with a 1-TB 3.5-inch product.

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi) has much more to celebrate than
the birth of the hard drive, which happened 50 years ago today in San Jose,
California. The company is also celebrating an areal density 1 achievement of
345 gigabits per square inch (Gbits/sq. in.) using perpendicular magnetic
recording (PMR) technology. This areal density, demonstrated in laboratory
testing, represents an increase of more than two-and-a-half times the areal
density of today’s highest-capacity products.

By 2009, Hitachi predicts that 345 Gbits/sq. in. would result in a two-terabyte
(TB) 3.5-inch desktop drive, a 400-gigabyte (GB) 2.5-inch notebook drive or a
200-GB 1.8-inch drive 2 . In the first half of 2007, Hitachi expects to bring
hard drive areal density half way to the 345 Gbits/sq. in. mark with a 1-TB
3.5-inch product.

Hitachi’s new areal density demonstration is not only a testament to the
resilience of the 50-year-old technology, but it’s also a glimpse into the hard
drive crystal ball. While 345 Gbits/sq. in. is clearly within grasp in the next
two to three years, researchers at Hitachi anticipate that extensions to PMR
technology will take hard drive advancements out beyond the next two decades,
using ever more complex and sophisticated means such as patterned media and
thermally-assisted recording. With these technologies, Hitachi predicts that
continued areal density advancements would be possible ten plus years into the
future. For example, in approximately 2016, 4 terabits per square inch (Tbits/sq.
in.) areal density would enable a 25-TB 3.5-inch drive. Beyond that, Hitachi
anticipates as much as 100 Tbits/sq. in. areal density will be possible, which
would enable a 0.65-petabyte 3.5-inch drive.

"We are very optimistic about the future for Hitachi and the hard disk drive
industry with research on these technologies strongly underway," said Hiroaki
Nakanishi, CEO, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. "The inventors of the
original RAMAC could not have seen five decades of innovation in 1956, but here
we are today celebrating its Golden Anniversary. With continued research
investment, we look forward to celebrating 75 years – the Diamond Anniversary –
of hard drive technology."

Beyond 50 Years

With PMR technology rolled out in high-volume production this year –
appropriately on the 50th anniversary of the hard drive — researchers are
looking at overcoming the next obstacles to advancing hard drive technology. The
major challenge that hard disk drive designers are facing in increasing data
densities is that the magnetic grains on the disk that store the data must
become smaller and will eventually become too small to be thermally stable at
room temperature. Patterned media and thermally-assisted recording are solutions
to this problem.

Today, roughly 100 magnetic grains make up a single bit of data. With patterned
media, researchers are creating isolated magnetic islands with one magnetic
grain representing a bit of data. By using fewer magnetic grains, patterned
media allows more bits of data per square inch of disk space while maintaining
thermal stability.

Rather than using fewer grains to represent a bit of data, thermally-assisted
recording allows magnetic grains to be smaller while resisting thermal
fluctuations at room temperature. As its name suggests, thermally-assisted
recording uses a laser to heat up the media while the magnetic head is writing
the smaller bits of data. This enables the use of media that is stable at room
temperature with the very small magnetic grains required for high-density
storage.

Hitachi researchers predict that patterned media technology could ship in
products as early as 2010. They believe that thermally-assisted recording would
be combined with patterned media technology several years later when patterning
alone is insufficient to sustain progress.