Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST) will begin selling hard-disk drives based on perpendicular recording, a yet-to-be commercialised recording method that should enable engineers to continue increasing drive storage capacity beyond today's limits.
The company is already testing sample drives and said the technology could allow for 1TB desktop drives or 20GB micro-drives by 2007.
Perpendicular recording is similar to the longitudinal recording used in today's drives in that it relies on magnetically charged particles for data storage.
Currently, the north and south poles of the magnetic particles run parallel to the disc but in the new method they are arranged perpendicular to the disc.
The result of this new arrangement is that each particle occupies a smaller area.
"Without [perpendicular recording], existing technology will stall at about 120- or 130G bits per square inch," chief technologist at HGST, John Best, said.
HGST sees drives based on the new method with densities of about 230G bits per square inch in 2007, he said. Such a density would enable the 1TB, 3.5-inch drive and 20GB, 1-inch drive, he said.
The first HGST drives are likely to offer storage density of about 120G bits per square inch and should be available later this year. It is currently field testing a 100GB, 2.5-inch drive based on an 80G bits per square inch version, Best said.
Other hard-disk drive makers are also busy researching and developing the technology. Toshiba is planning to put on sale two 1.8-inch drives based on perpendicular technology: a 40GB drive during the April to June quarter and an 80GB drive during the July to September quarter.