Hitachi Ltd. announced that its hard drive division is going to push way past today?s storage limits to 4 terabytes for desktop computers and 1 terabyte on laptops in 2011. Researchers at the company created the world?s smallest disk drive heads in the 30-nanometer to 50-nanometer range, or about 2,000 times smaller than the width of an average human hair. In fact, the entire industry is reverting back to the giant magnetoresistance, or GMR hard drive head technology it used about ten years ago. The initial application of this physical effect maxed out and the industry had to replace it with tunnel magnetoresistance read heads, or TMR. ?We changed the direction of the current and adjusted the materials to get good properties,? said John Best, chief technologist for Hitachi?s data-storage unit.
The company, which bought IBM?s hard drive division recently, will report at the Perpendicular Magnetic Recording Conference in Tokyo that it has made heads 30nm and 50nm wide that had signal-to-noise ratios of 30-40 dB. The technology builds on GMR (giant magnetoresistance), a physical effect that manipulates the charge and spin of electrons, allowing an increase in density and storage on hard drives. The GMR effect won two European scientists, Albert Fert and Peter Grunberg, a Nobel Prize in physics this month.GMR was discovered in 1988 and commercialized by vendors such as IBM, which used the technology to increase the capacity of its drives every year. Now that?s what I call a fine storage capacity!