That’s one trillion (1,000,000,000,000) bits in one square inch of the disk.
That’s more than double the number of stars in the Milky Way, which astronomers estimate to number between 200 and 400 billion.
Seagate has become the first hard drive maker to achieve the milestone storage density of 1 terabit per square inch.
The technology demonstration promises to double the storage capacity of today’s hard drives upon its introduction later this decade.
Don’t be surprised to see 3.5-inch hard drives with an extraordinary capacity of up to 60 terabytes over the 10 years that follow.
Seagate reached the landmark data density with heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), the next- generation recording technology.
The current hard drive technology, Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR), is used to record the spectrum of digitized data – from music, photos, and video stored on home desktop and laptop PCs to business information housed in sprawling data centers – on the spinning platters inside every hard drive.
PMR technology was introduced in 2006 to replace longitudinal recording, a method in place since the advent of hard drives for computer storage in 1956, and is expected to reach its capacity limit near 1 terabit per square inch in the next few years.
Hard drive manufacturers increase areal density and capacity by shrinking a platter’s data bits to pack more within each square inch of disk space.
They also tighten the data tracks, the concentric circles on the disk’s surface that anchor the bits.
The maximum capacity of today’s 3.5-inch hard drives is 3 terabytes (TB), at about 620 gigabits per square inch, while 2.5-inch drives top out at 750 gigabytes (GB), or roughly 500 gigabits per square inch.
The first generation of HAMR drives, at just over 1 terabit per square inch, will likely more than double these capacities – to 6TB for 3.5-inch drives and 2TB for 2.5-inch models.
The technology offers a scale of capacity growth never before possible, with a theoretical areal density limit ranging from 5 to 10 terabits per square inch – 30TB to 60TB for 3.5-inch drives and 10TB to 20TB for 2.5-inch drives.