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Hitachi and others break storage capacity barriers

Hitachi and others break storage capacity barriers

A number of storage technology breakthroughs were announced this week, including the doubling of hard disk and tape memory capacity, vendors said.

Hitachi in Japan has developed a technology that can more than double hard-disk memory density, according to North American spokesman Gerry Corbett.

According to Corbett and a Japanese news report, the company will start shipping product samples as early as 2004.

Hitachi's technology, called perpendicular magnetic recording, increases storage per square inch of disk space to 107 gigabits, seven more gigabits than is now possible with that particular recording technology.

David Reinsel, research manager for hard drives at IDC, said the difference between traditional data storage and perpendicular magnetic recording is the polarity of the bits.

"The magnetisation for the traditional [recording] being left to right, where as perpendicular moves that polarity to north to south," he said. "Typically, when [the hard drive's head] is entering into the next bit there's a transition period. This eliminates the transition that had been there. It's going to require a different type of head to read it."

Reinsel said Hitachi's perpendicular magnetic recording breakthrough, which was announced a year ago, is significant for the future of storage, but not yet "ready for prime time".

"Horizontal technology still has a way to go," he said.

For example, Californian-based Read-Rite yesterday announced it has achieved 130 billion bits per square inch of hard-disk space using horizontal or longitudinal disk technology. That will enable consumers to record 134 full-length VHS motion pictures on a two-disk personal video recorder once the technology reaches the marketplace.

"In less than three years, our skilled team of engineers and strategic partners pushed areal density levels over 950 per cent, from 13.5 billion bits per square inch in July 1998 to today's achievement of 130 billion bits per square inch," Mark Re, senior vice president of research and development at Read-Rite, said in a statement.

Also yesterday, Sony said it has broken the record for tape storage density by achieving over 11.5 gigabits per square inch of data storage on one square inch of tape. That nearly doubles the previous record of 6.5 gigabits per square inch.

Sony said in a statement that the breakthrough paves the way for its new S-AIT storage format, which will feature the industry's highest compressed capacity - more than 1TB per tape - when it debuts this fall.

"This latest density breakthrough will allow the AIT and S-AIT architectures to progress in a parallel manner and achieve our current road maps," said Takao Hiramoto, president for the Server Solutions Company of Sony's Broadband Solutions Network in Tokyo.

In other news, a team of storage networking industry vendors announced this week it broke the 2TB per hour backup barrier.

The performance test, performed on a storage-area network, used equipment from Brocade Communications, Emulex, Storage Technology, Sun Microsystems and Veritas Software. The companies were backing up an Oracle9i database.

The new benchmark will allow companies to reduce current backup times significantly, said Steve Kenniston, an analyst at the Enterprise Storage Group.

"Improving backup and restore times at a significant level, based on real-world database configurations, will be of great advantage to companies who view maximum uptime as an essential business requirement." Kenniston said.

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