Are Hard Drives Dead?

No, I don’t mean ‘hard drive’ in the sense of a Star Trek ship drive, but in the most common sense – that of computers. Now, researchers have discovered that a nitrogen-vacancy (NV) defect in diamond can be used to create a magnetometer that can measure the broadband magnetic fields generated by hard-disk write heads at a resolution of 2 nanometres. So what? How about Terabit drives in smartphones then?

Photomontage of a diamond and a hard-drive head. (Courtesy: I Jakobi)  from Physics World

Moore’s Law works for solid state devices, but the bit density on hard drives has been increasing exponentially too, for many years. I remember back in the day when I saw my first IBM PC hard drive – 10 MB and it was amazing to me. Nowadays, laptops are shipped off-the-shelf with multi terabit drives.

‘Areal density’is the measure of the quantity of information bits that can be stored on a given length of track, area of surface, or in a given volume of a computer storage medium (wikipedia), and this is currently about 1.34 Tbit/in²,about 600 million times that of the first (2,000 bits/in²)from IBM in 1956. This new research (including a team from Seagate Technology) promises resolution at the 5-10 nanometre scale – a huge leap in areal density, offering the tantalising possibility of Tbit drives in smartphones. Full story at Physics World