Storage hikes in solid state and hard drives


Two tech heavyweights have announced major advancements in storage, with Toshiba boosting magenetic disk capacities and Intel teaming up with Micron Technology to double flash disk density.

Toshiba has increased storage densities by almost five times using a technology it calls bit-patterned media. The coating uses magnetic spheres organised in rows to create a richer field of 2.5Tbits per square inch. Current media can only reach 541Gbits.

Researchers have produced prototypes of the medium before but the results lacked the reliability required for consistent results. By cracking the problem of organising the spheres, the process could now lend itself to commercial production.

Toshiba hopes to have drives based on bit-patterning on the market by 2013. These would be capable of storing 4TB or more in the same footprint today's 1TB drives.

Intel and Micron have announced the delivery of NAND flash memory chips that double the density of solid state storage.

Under the name of IM Flash Technologies (IMFT), the companies have developed a 25-nanometre (nm) lithography process that produces an 8GB chip measuring 19mm by 9mm.

These chips can be used to produce much smaller solid-state drives and will be ideal for mobile devices, such as USB drives and smartphone memories. Unit prices have yet to be announced but IMFT predicts that the cost per megabyte will be much lower than current drives.

With memory prices always being at a premium initially and falling away as supplies increase, it may be a year or so before the cost differential is apparent.

IMFT have been here before with a similar technology based on 34nm lithography which launched but was then withdrawn due to reliability issues.

The consortium now believes that these problems are behind them and expect to be in full production around the end of this year.