Mechanical drives might be a bit on the slow side, but the price per GB still makes them king among digital packrats. The technology behind today’s 2 & 3TB drives is currently known as perpendicular magnetic recording, but recently we seem to have hit a wall. Manufacturers are already hard at work on 4 platter-4TB drives, but were starting to reach the limitations of what’s possible. Luckily a recent collaboration by the remaining mechanical drive makers has begun to pay off, and the Storage Technology Alliance believes it has discovered a way to use lasers to blast to 8TB and beyond .
The theory itself was devised by TDK and more specifically, involves the use of lasers couple with a high coercivity material to allow for the capacity bump. The new laser approach seems to be the secret sauce behind the discovery, but will also need to be married with bit-patterned media (BPM), to assist with recording and retaining data.
The technology isn’t quite ready for prime-time just yet, so TDK has been pretty tight lipped about the exact details. Either way it should give the fans on team mechanical new hope. SSD cost per GB has been dropping pretty rapidly over the past few years, but I shudder to think about how much 8TB would cost.