Hitachi to offer 4TB desktop drives by 2011

Unveils technology that can halve the size of disk drive recording heads

Hitachi unveiled a new technology that it said can be used to cut the size of hard disk drive recording heads in half, which would dramatically boost storage capacity.

The company announced the new nanometer recording technology at the Perpendicular Magnetic Recording Conference in Tokyo over the weekend.

John Best, chief technology officer of Hitachi's global storage technologies unit, predicted that the new nanometer recording technology will eventually enable the disk drive manufacturer to expand the capacity of desktop disk drives to 4TB, and of notebook computer drives to 1TB.

Hitachi said the new technology will be used to build current-perpendicular-to-the-plane giant magnetoresistive (CPP-GMR) heads. Best said Hitachi's new CPP-GMR heads will measure in the 30-50nm range, up to 2,000 times smaller than the width of an average strand of human hair.

Best said Hitachi expects to begin shipping recording heads with 50nm track widths in 2009, most likely for notebook computers.

Recording heads with 30nm track widths will begin shipping in Hitachi products in 2011, he added.

Hitachi officials said that its new technology is able to shrink recording density on current hard drives from 500Gbit per square inch to 1Tbit per square inch. That capability will be necessary as more information -- in the form of smaller and smaller data bits -- is being squeezed onto hard drives through new forms of media, said Best.

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Brian Fonseca

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