Hitachi Unveils 'Nanoscale Hard Drive'

Dennis Faas's picture

Hitachi has successfully reduced a major component found in most hard drives down to a nanoscale. If a "nanoscale hard drive" is able to complete all of the functions of a regular hard drive, the new technology will pave the way for higher capacity storage limits in the very near future.

What this basically means is that those who use laptop computers, digital video recorders or portable music players will not have to worry about running out of storage space any time soon. The nanoscale hard drive can quadruple the storage space of a regular hard drive to 4 terabytes for desktop computers and 1 terabyte for laptop computers by the year 2011. (Source:

To give you a mental picture of how much memory can be stored with this new technology, just 1 terabyte can hold roughly 1 million books, 250 hours of high-definition videos and 250,000 songs.

Hitachi plans to unveil the nanoscale hard drive at the annual Perpendicular Magnetic Recording Conference held in Tokyo.

The technology used to reduce the hard drive is actually called giant magnoresistance (GRM) and is the basis for the work of two European scientists who won the Nobel Prize in physics last week. (Source:

The nanoscale hard drive has an interior metal desk that spins as an arm with an electromagnetic head at its tip. The electromagnetic head reads bits of data by registering the magnetic bearing of the particles on the disk.

The growing fascination over the discovery of the most efficient storage capacity has led researchers to cram even more bits of data closer together while still making the electromagnetic heads sensitive enough to read the data. GMR allows extremely thin layers of altering metals to detect weak changes in magnetism. This was one of the breakthrough technologies of the early part of 2000 that allowed hard drives to double its capacity every year.

The electromagnetic heads that used GMR technology quickly maxed out their capacity levels and were effectively replaced by an entirely different kind of head in recent years. Now that this replacement head is running into its own share of storage capacity problems, researches have decided to reintroduce GMR as a viable successor. (Source:

GMR technology has allowed Hitachi to create the world's smallest disk drive heads ranging between 30-50 nanometers in length. This can be comparable to 2,000 times smaller than the width of a single strand of human hair.

Analysts predict that the entire disk drive industry will migrate towards GMR technology by early 2009.

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