Maxtor Prepares To Leap Storage Hurdle

Maxtor's subsidiary MMC Technology announced that it can manufacture future hard disks using "perpendicular recording" with today's equipment.

Maxtor Corp. subsidiary MMC Technology this week plans to announce that it believes it can manufacture next-generation hard-disk platters using todays equipment, helping keep future storage costs down.

By 2005, MMC believes, the industry will have switched over to a new storage technique called "perpendicular recording", maintaining the steady increases in storage capacity the hard drive industry has come to expect.

Disk storage doesnt have a simple, overarching rule of thumb like Moores Law, which governs the semiconductor industry. Instead, disk manufacturers have traditionally increased the number of megabits stored per square inch at about 25 percent per year in the 1990s, actually increasing that rate to 100 percent per year beginning about the year 2000.

That pace could stall, Maxtor executives warned, unless advances like perpendicular recording are implemented.

"But (areal densitys) not doubling any more," said Ken Johnson, vice president of research and development for MMC Technology. "Were at 80 Gbytes per platter, and no ones announcing 160 (GB/platter)."

The most recent improvements have been in the way disk drives read and write data, as magento-resistive heads and "giant" MR heads have packed data tighter and tighter along the surface of the disk. In doing so, the magnetic "seeds" along the surface of the disk have also been pushed closer together, to the point that researchers worry that each seeds polarity will begin to affect those around it, corrupting the data.

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