4TB Hard Disk Drives May Emerge in 2011 - Analyst

Hard Drive Manufacturers to Continue Boosting Capacities

by Anton Shilov
12/01/2010 | 06:35 PM

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.