HGST doubles HDD capacities by combining self-assembling molecules, nanoimprinting

By on March 1, 2013, 4:30 PM

HGST, a storage firm born from the merger between Hitatchi Global Storage Technologies and Western Digital, claims to have developed self-assembling methods for producing dense magnetic storage drives. Its advancements could more than double the capacity of today's mechanical storage drives.

The company says its process involves three discoveries: self-assembling molecules, line-doubling and nanoimprinting and does not require conventional photolithrography. 

Researchers say they can produce magnetic "islands" which are only 50 atoms wide, or about 10 nanometers, using molecular self-assembly. HGST can combine this process with line-doubling and improved nanolithorgraphy (nanoimprinting) techniques to reliably create impressively dense storage.

In HGST's research, self-organizing molecules are stopped just short of lumping together thanks to the presence of additional co-polymers which actually repel each other. When the mixtures is applied as an extremely thin film to a specially treated surface, the effect causes self-assembling molecules to be spaced out and lined up in perfect rows. This process is what creates magnetic "islands" which can be used to represent binary states -- and it does so with finer precision than traditional methods, yielding an incredibly dense pattern. Those islands are then doubled using a chip-industry process known as line-doubling.

Self-assembling co-polymers aren't exactly new, but according to HGST, forming them into concentric rings usable by mechanical disk drives is an industry first. The result is a drive substrate peppered with twice the magnetic elements found on typical drives, effectively doubling its potential storage capacity. However, HGST believes its processes can be refined to produce even denser storage, more than doubling their capacity in the future.

There is no roadmap provided, so when exactly this technology may end up in the hands of consumers remains unknown. However, the press release states its advancements may, "become a cost-effective means of increasing data densities in magnetic hard disk drives before the end of the decade."

User Comments: 8

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JC713 JC713 said:

Interesting. This is great news for 4K

Guest said:

Who needs this gimmick, gimme double speed and I'll buy it !

Guest said:

If you want speed get an SSD.

1 person liked this | Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

I need this, and it is no 'gimmick'. so do many companies, ever heard of server farms? My pc only has 8 SATA ports. Allowing a port for the boot SSD, a port for the optical drive, and a port for a hot swap external HD (I don't use this because I need the port for HD's) that leaves 5 or 6 ports. With 6 ports and 2 TB drives that only gives you 12 TB of storage, but of course this is only 931.51GB/1 TB formatted NTFS that yields 11.2 TB usable drive space. But wait! Because they need defragmenting it is recommending leaving 15%-25% free space. Even at 15% that leaves 9.5 TB of space, and then where do you put new stuff, so you need some free space. And then there is the back-up issue. The 'Cloud', don't get me started, what a joke. And no, there is no p0rn on this PC, although my CD's are ripped in .wav format because my PC is connected to my home stereo. Yes, they do sound better than .flac

1 person liked this | MrBungle said:

I need this, and it is no 'gimmick'. so do many companies, ever heard of server farms?...

I could use it too, my file server's RAID controller only has 8 ports... 2 are tied up by a RAID 1 the system boots off of the other 6 are in a RAID 6 array the 6x 3TB drives have a usable capacity of only 10.8TB had this setup since 2011 and there is practically no options for larger drives... sure I could migrate to 4TB drives but that is only going to net me about 3.5TB and with the price of the 4TB disks cost about 2 grand. When I bought this thing I was figuring we would have 6 or 8TB drives by now. I'm really hoping there will be some movement on the highend for storage drives since im down to less than 40% of capacity...

Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

I too am disappointed by the lack of innovation on mechanical hard drives. Probably what we get for having only two main manufacturers. I would like to change my set-up for more redundancy, but to go and replace all my 2 TB drives with 4 TB drives all at once would cost a small fortune, not to mention the cost of a good raid controller. Sadly regular consumer gear is just not up to scratch for these uses.

MrBungle said:

Sadly regular consumer gear is just not up to scratch for these uses.

I hear ya there. I used to used old desktops for my file server which worked... just never as well as I would have liked. Back in 2011 I decieded to bite the bullet and purchased all entry level server class gear, Xeon processor, Adaptec RAID controller, running Server 2008 R2. All told (including a server grade UPS) it ended up costing about $3700 which is out of reach of some but I've been very happy with the results.

Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

Ahhh, you are giving me a severe case of computer envy!!!

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