Toshiba researchers have created a prototype of a hard disk that uses bit-patterned media technology to achieve a storage density of 2.5 terabits per square inch, nearly five times more than the company's current highest capacity drive. The first HDDs based on the bit-patterned media technology are expected to hit the market in 2013.
The breakthrough has been made in the research of bit-patterned media, a magnetic storage technology that is being developed for future hard disk drives. In today's drives, magnetic material is spread across the surface of the disk and bits of data are stored across several hundred magnetic grains, but the technology is reaching its limit.
Bit-patterned media breaks up the recording surface into numerous magnetic bits, each consisting of a few magnetic grains. Under a microscope, the magnetic bits look like thousands of tiny spheres crammed next to each another.
Data is stored on these magnetic bits: One magnetic bit can hold one bit of data.