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Manufacturers of hard disk drives (HDDs) will continue to boost capacities of their products next year and by the end of 2011 hard drives with whopping 4TB capacities may emerge, according to an analyst. In order to build 4TB  HDDs, manufacturers will have to create new platters with considerably higher than 530Gb/inch2 areal density or make drives with five platters, like Hitachi does.

At present 3TB hard drive from Western Digital utilizes four 750GB platters with 530Gb/inch2 areal density. A four platter drive with 4TB capacity will require four 1TB platters with even higher density, something that is not easy to achieve. Moreover, initially platters with higher areal density will be used in 2.5" or 2.5" external drives.

"Besides widespread use of desktop storage technology enabling 3TB storage capacity earlier in the year we might see higher desktop capacities later in the year (depending upon the slowing rate of areal density increases). At the very least we will probably see 4TB or higher external storage with small additional increase in areal density and using 5 [platters]. We expect that 2.5" external storage will move beyond the 2TB available today to as high as 3TB and laptop 2.5" drives with 1.5- 2.0TB could happen in the second half of 2011 or early in 2012. Should Toshiba wish to push the storage capacities of 1.8" HDDs it would be possible to make one of these with 1 TB storage capacity," said Thomas M. Coughlin, the founder of Coughlin Associates market research firm that tracks HDDs, in a special report cited by Storage Newsletter web-site.

Given the fact that only newer computers will be compatible with hard drives larger than 2.2TBs, the upgrade market of hard disk drives will likely stagnate a bit next year as fewer consumers will be interested in top-of-the-range HDDs. As a result, it is unlikely that manufacturers will attempt to deliver high capacity points at any cost.

It is noteworthy that hard drives of 2011-2012 timeframes will be the last traditional drives as going forward new recording methodologies will be implemented to boost capacities.

"Beyond 2011 traditional perpendicular recording advances become more difficult and dual stage actuator HDDs or drives for some special applications using what is called shingle writing could provide even higher areal densities while the HDD industry sorts out whether HAMR or patterned media are the choice for more significant and multi-generational HDD areal density advances," said Mr. Coughlin.

Tags: WD, Seagate, Hitachi, Toshiba, Samsung, HDD


Comments currently: 8
Discussion started: 12/01/10 07:49:33 PM
Latest comment: 05/16/11 04:52:03 PM


...only newer computers will be compatible with hard drives larger than 2.2TBs, the upgrade market of hard disk drives will likely stagnate a bit next year as fewer consumers will be interested in top-of-the-range HDDs.

2.2TiB has no comparability issues with existing bioses except that they aren't directly bootable with MFT. Why would upgraders not keep their existing drives?

I want my 3 or 4 TiB internal drives now.
0 0 [Posted by: Zoomer  | Date: 12/01/10 07:49:33 PM]

For the home user, dedicated data HDDs 2 x 2TB in RAID1 should be able to safely hold "enough" photos, music and movies. There is only so much time one has to listen/watch this huge volume of content.
0 0 [Posted by: BernardP  | Date: 12/02/10 07:47:50 AM]

Well, at least i want cheaper 2TB 7200rpm drives for starters.
My current 2*1TB drives are just about full and i´ve got plenty more to store. Bluray is still waaay too expensive and it takes too many DVDs to offload even just a single 1TB drive...
So, 4TB drives, yes please soonest!
0 0 [Posted by: DIREWOLF75  | Date: 12/02/10 02:49:29 PM]

Hard drive manufacturers are going to have a hard time in the coming years getting HDDs larger than 2.2GB sold. I mean people need to be running 64-bit OS, the hard drives need to be partitioned using GPT, and you need a motherboard running EFI instead of BIOS just to boot to the damn thing.

How many motherboards out now support UEFI? If I was the Hard drive manufacturers I would be screaming to the mobo makers to get their act together and release UEFI out as standard now on all mobos.
0 0 [Posted by: iLLz  | Date: 12/03/10 10:08:54 AM]

A simple workaround would be for the firmware to present a small 100 MB drive in addition to the large drive. The 100 MB drive could hold the real bootloader and fireup whatever OS on the 2nd GPT drive.

The end user would not know the difference. Heck, Windows 7 does that by default (but on the same drive) already.
0 0 [Posted by: Zoomer  | Date: 12/05/10 03:34:32 PM]

I think that this compatibility issue should be solved in a way or another. A separate partition "viewable" in the current way or a "virtual drive" something but this needs to be addressed.
0 0 [Posted by: East17  | Date: 12/06/10 10:09:40 AM]

4 TB HDD??? Isn't that overkill? Like, do you have to have a PC running Intel Core i7 to run that thing? Holy cow!!!
0 0 [Posted by: banzaigtv  | Date: 12/26/10 10:06:45 AM]

HD content will really push capacities higher. We are shying away from the obsolete optical media of the past and moving towards streaming and network based storage for our content. In much the way the TV networks are breathing their last breaths (relative to what they were I mean), optical media is fast approaching the same path.

50GB per BluRay. And that's only 1080p, what about 4080p which is coming very soon. Never underestimate technology, and never try to stay ahead or you'll go broke!
0 0 [Posted by: rbreed  | Date: 05/16/11 04:52:03 PM]


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