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Hitachi Global Storage Division said Tuesday its first commercial hard disk drives that use perpendicular recording will be available later during the year. In case the adoption of the technology proceeds as planned, the company promises to bring desktop HDDs of about 1TB size within the next couple of years – by 2007.

“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.

Researchers are finding that the commonly used method of recoding on magnetic discs – longitudinal recording – is losing its ability to maintain data integrity at areal densities much beyond 120Gb/in? (or 15GB per square inch). Perpendicular recording method, which has been known for many years and explored by HDD makers for a number of recent years, could offer up to 230Gb/in2 (or about 29GB per square inch) areal densities in the short term and further increase in the long term.

 
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Perpendicular recording 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 said it had achieved the 230Gb/in2 density by manipulating the head and media so that the distance between them is a mere 10nm.

Testers, which are said to represent notable academia, industry luminaries and customers worldwide, have been using computing systems with perpendicular recording hard drives as part of their daily routine since December 2004, Hitachi indicated. The program has revealed encouraging data about future mass-market adoption of the new technology, which Hitachi believes will gain momentum in 2006.

Hitachi expects to ship its first perpendicular recording product in 2005 on a 2.5” hard drive, used in notebook computers and handheld consumer electronics. None of the details about the drive, including the areal density of the platter to be used, have been released so far, which may indicate that the release is not yet really close.

Hitachi believes platters with areal density of about 230Gb/in2 will be implemented in commercial hard drive products in 2007, which may enable HDDs with capacity of about 1TB (1TB is 1000GB). 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 60GB one-inch drive, Hitachi said.

Other leading manufacturers of hard disk drives, such as Maxtor, Seagate and Toshiba have also indicated plans to make discs with perpendicular recording platters and have showcased product prototypes.

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