HGTS is announcing new advancements to a 100-year-old magnetic recording technology that will set the stage for ultra-high capacities such as a 20-gigabyte* Microdrive or a one terabyte 3.5-inch hard drive. To achieve this, Hitachi has demonstrated the industry’s highest data density at 230 gigabits per square inch (Gb/in2) on perpendicular recording. Hitachi believes 230 Gb/in2, which represents a doubling of today’s highest longitudinal recording densities, will be implemented in commercial hard drive products in 2007. When fully realized over the next 5-7 years, perpendicular recording could enable a 10-fold increase in data densities over longitudinal recording, paving the way for new heights in capacity such as a 60 GB one-inch drive.
Hitachi Global Storage Technologies is today announcing new
advancements to a 100-year-old magnetic recording technology that will set the
stage for ultra-high capacities such as a 20-gigabyte* Microdrive or a one
terabyte 3.5-inch hard drive.
To achieve this, Hitachi has demonstrated the industry’s highest data density at
230 gigabits per square inch (Gb/in2) on perpendicular recording. Hitachi
believes 230 Gb/in2, which represents a doubling of today’s highest longitudinal
recording densities, will be implemented in commercial hard drive products in
2007. When fully realized over the next 5-7 years, perpendicular recording could
enable a 10-fold increase in data densities over longitudinal recording, paving
the way for new heights in capacity such as a 60 GB one-inch drive.
Perpendicular recording has its roots in the late 19th century work of Danish
scientist Valdemar Poulsen, who is generally considered the first person to
magnetically record sound using perpendicular recording. The technology gets its
name from the vertical alignment of data bits on the plane of the disk, which
takes less room in contrast to the horizontal orientation of today’s
longitudinal recording technology. To be accurately recorded and read, the more
closely-packed perpendicular bits also require a closer association between the
read/write head and the recording media. Hitachi achieved the 230 Gb/in2 density
by manipulating the head and media so that the distance between them is a mere
10 nanometers or 1/10,000th of a human hair.
While the hard drive industry has been using longitudinal recording successfully
for five decades, it is now within two product generations of reaching its
practical limit. Researchers are finding that longitudinal recording is losing
its ability to maintain data integrity at areal densities much beyond 120 Gb/in2.
"We are at the cusp of the most significant hard drive technology transition of
the past decade, and it’s one that holds so much promise for the hard drive and
consumer electronics industries," said Jun Naruse, CEO, Hitachi Global Storage
Technologies. "As the biggest supplier of small-form-factor hard drives,
2.5-inch and below, consumers’ demand for storing more data on smaller devices
has provided a strong impetus for us to pursue perpendicular recording with a
greater sense of urgency."
While the transition to perpendicular recording will start as early as the next
product generation, Hitachi believes the true potential will be realized in the
200+ Gb/in2 range – the point of technology maturation when meaningful
advancements in storage capacity will ensure full-scale adoption of
perpendicular recording technology.
Perpendicular Recording Field Test
As the hard drive industry approaches the crossroad of this major transition in
data recording technology, Hitachi is prepared to lead the charge with new
achievements on perpendicular recording and a worldwide field test program.
Testers have been using computing systems with perpendicular recording hard
drives as part of their daily routine since December 2004. The program has
revealed encouraging data about future mass-market adoption of the new
technology, which Hitachi believes will gain momentum in 2006. Hitachi is taking
the necessary steps to ensure a smooth transition to perpendicular recording
through this extensive field test program and long-term reliability tests.
Professor Shun-ichi Iwasaki, president and chief director of Japan’s Tohoku
Institute of Technology, is considered to be the father of modern perpendicular
recording and is among the early testers of Hitachi’s perpendicular recording
"I have been engaged in magnetic recording research since 1951 and found that
the most important subject in this field is high-density recording," said
Professor Iwasaki. "Around 1975, I began to feel that the vertical direction was
the right way to go to attain high-density recording, and began leading the
activities to make perpendicular recording a practical technology. I am very
glad to see that the technology will come into use soon."
Participants in Hitachi’s field test program are making history as one of the
first people to write data vertically on a hard drive. These testers represent
notable academia, industry luminaries and customers worldwide. Field testers are
using notebook systems from various manufacturers with the Hitachi Travelstar
2.5-inch drive. The data gleaned from this program will help Hitachi prepare for
the eventual full-scale production of perpendicular recording hard drives.
Hitachi expects to ship its first perpendicular recording product in 2005 on a
2.5-inch hard drive, used in notebook computers and handheld consumer
"The health of this industry over the next 5-10 years is critically tied to the
successful implementation and transition to perpendicular recording technology,"
said Jim Porter, hard drive industry analyst and historian, owner of DISK/TREND.
"Hitachi is taking a responsible approach in assuring that it proceeds smoothly
with extensive testing programs."
In addition to the field test program, Hitachi has implemented a long-term
reliability and stress testing regimen, involving hundreds of perpendicular
recording drives over many months.
Pushing Back the "Superparamagnetic Limit"
With longitudinal recording, the hard drive industry is quickly approaching a
physical barrier called the "superparamagnetic limit," which occurs when the
microscopic magnetic grains on the disk become so tiny that they are not strong
enough to resist the various factors tending to demagnetize them. The result is
that, over several years, the information written onto these magnetic grains can
fade and become corrupted, rendering the storage device unreliable and unusable.
Simplistically, the data bits can be thought of as little dominoes. Longitudinal
recording, as its name indicates, lays these dominoes (data bits) horizontally,
taking up more space. In contrast, perpendicular recording sets up the dominoes
on their edges, allowing more bits per square inch of disk surface, resulting in
higher storage capacity overall.