SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif. -- April 4, 2004 -- At the American Physical Society conference last week, Seagate Technology presented research findings indicating data storage densities of 50 terabits per square inch or more.

At 50 terabits per square inch densities, over 3.5 million high-resolution photos, 2,800 audio CDs, 1,600 hours of television or the entire printed collection of the U.S. Library of Congress could be stored onto recording media about the size of a single coin, such as a half dollar (30.61mm). Seagate's research team is currently developing the technology, called heat assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), which is expected to enable these ultra-high storage densities.

This research has been conducted as part of the Information Storage Industry Consortium (INSIC) program in Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording, with the support of the U. S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

HAMR technology will significantly extend the capacity of modern magnetic disc drives that use magnetic heads to read and write digital data onto spinning platters, according to Seagate. HAMR achieves higher densities by using a laser beam or other energy source to heat the recording medium at the same time that data bits are being recorded. HAMR technology will also achieve its high areal densities at a cost structure comparable with the hard disk drives of today, making it a key enabling storage technology that will allow the adoption of mass storage to continue to enter emerging markets.

Seagate's Research division has worked on HAMR technology in addition to other promising storage technologies since its research center was first founded in 1998. Seagate estimates that HAMR technology will be used in disk drive devices initially at 1 terabit-per-square-inch densities, with a time to market of approximately 2010.

"The pursuit of key technologies such as HAMR is part of Seagate's long-term strategy to maintain its position as the leader in storage to ultimately satisfy the needs of our customers today and tomorrow," said Bill Watkins, Seagate president and chief operating officer. "Seagate's research team is our looking glass into the future that will continue to help guide us with selecting and developing the appropriate future technologies that will lead to best-in-class, quality products for our customers."

Blake Harris  |  Contributing Editor