Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and Seagate chimed in Monday on perpendicular recording, a next-generation means of improving the areal density of hard disk drives.
Hitachi GST is expected to release the first of the new drives later this year, and a spokesman for Seagate said over the weekend that his company plans to follow suit. Toshiba, which has already announced its own plans, will use the new recording method first on smaller drives for portable music players and similar devices, as will Hitachi.
Magnetic disk drives were designed around the principle of longitudinal recording, where magnetic grains are aligned along a flat plane on the surface of the disk platter.
As disk substrate manufacturers design platters with smaller grains, the risk is that they will spontaneously switch their magnetic orientation, which would destroy the encoded data.
"Perpendicular" recording places the grains in a vertical orientation "into" the disk platter, allowing the drive to store more bits in a given two-dimensional space, like high-rise buildings in a city block.
Although desktop drives contain a comfortable few hundred gigabytes, taking that storage on the go has become a lucrative market. Apples iPod Photo tops out at 60GB, for example, while the smaller Mini version holds just a tenth of that, or 6GB. Hitachi GST markets the 1-inch Microdrive, a technology originally developed by IBM, while Seagates 1-inch retail product is known as the "Pocket" hard drive.