Toy Box: Storage gets sexy

Storage is boring, right? Hard drives keep getting larger. RAM keeps getting faster. So far, so what? Snorage.

Storage is boring, right? Hard drives keep getting larger. RAM keeps getting faster. So far, so what? Snorage.

Well, you’re wrong. Two new tiny drives are hitting the streets this year. Cornice is offering a 1.5GB hard drive at $US100 that is less than 2.5cm long while Hitachi is making use of its hard drive division newly purchased from IBM to introduce a 4GB disk to its micro-drive. Pixie dust, you see.

Well, you don’t because it’s too small, but Hitachi now owns the patents for “antiferromag-netically coupled media”, which is essentially a three-atom thick layer of Ruthenium, sandwiched between three magnetic layers. Coat the disk with that and you don’t have to worry about having a large disk space to read, as you’ve got a dense memory layer. Hitachi has doubled the capacity of the dust by moving to a five-layer process, which means a capacity of 60 billion bits per square inch. Hitachi has also done something with the reader head, making it half the size and 40% shorter.

What does it all mean? MP3 players that can carry more data than my PC. Cellphones with gigabytes of storage. Technological advances that will trickle up to the larger cousins of these devices, leading to the half terabyte drives that can’t be too far away.

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