Seagate has beaten Western Digital to the post in breaking the one terabit per square inch data barrier on a disk platter. (Now we know why they were so anxious to acquire Maxtor and their R&D facility!)
Currently, with a data density of 620 gigabits per square inch, the maximum capacity of a 3.5 inch is 3TB. With this announcement from Seagate, we are likely to see hard drive capacities shoot up to 6TBs for 3.5” drives and 2TB for 2.5” models. All of this is possible by using lasers to heat tiny areas of the platter (a.k.a Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording, as discussed on this blog two weeks ago).
This sounds all very well in theory but from a data recovery point of view a defective drive head could now cause even more damage. Currently, a defective drive head can cause bit corruption. At worst, a physically damaged drive head can have a scouring effect as it moves across the platters. But having a defective drive head which also has a microscopic laser attached to it could compound or magnify even small drive head defects. Seagate have not mentioned anything in their press releases about how the laser will impact power consumption and more importantly has not mentioned anything about how the laser will impact read /write performance. We look forward to purchasing one of these drives to put it through it’s paces in our lab.