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Luke, I Am Your Density…

by Administrator on January 22, 2010

12956Just as George McFly became a real man when he embraced his density, so shall we all.

This week, two big announcements were made about technologies that will/promise to dramatically increase the storage capacities of magnetic media.

The first came in a set of two papers presented by Toshiba at the 11th Joint MMM (Magnetism and Magnetic Materials) and Intermag (International Magnetic Conference) Conference in Washington D.C.

Per their press release:

“The Toshiba development team presented two papers titled,

  • “MR Ratio and RA Design of CCP-GMR Film for over 2Tb/in2 Read Sensors”
  • “Fabrication of Ridge-and Groove Servo Pattern Consisting Self-Assembled Dots for High-Density Bit Pattern Media.”

MR Ratio and RA Design of CCP-GMR Film for Over 2Tb/in2 Read Sensors technology was developed by Toshiba to extend the original Nano Contact Magneto-Resistive (NCMR) head technology that enables ultra-high sensitivity with a nano magnetic domain wall – aiming at a recording density of 5Tbpsi.  The development teams from the Corporate R&D Center in Kawasaki, Japan will present the research simulation results that revealed the key specifications of CCP-GMR and the resistance range for 2-to-5 Tbpsi NCMR heads.

The second paper, Fabrication of Ridge-and Groove Servo Pattern Consisting Self-Assembled Dots for High-Density Bit Pattern Media, will present bit patterned medium (BPM) in such a way that the magnetic recording layer is cut into rows of tiny magnetic dots in the size of one-bit.  A self-assembled material is used to create the bit pattern of 2.5 Tbpsi as well as servo signal patterns. The Toshiba development team from the Corporate R&D Center in Kanagawa, Japan will discuss their simulation study based on the fabricated BPM sample, the servo signal qualities and future challenges for BPM.”

The key takeaway is that we are rapidly approaching a 5 Tb per square inch recording capability of disk drives.

The second bit of density news came from IBM and FujiFilm today and has to do with tape.  Specifically, the companies are boasting a new recording method that will produce a 35 TB tape cartridge.  (Sort of a stick in the eye to those who claimed a few years ago that tape was dead and that it couldn’t keep pace with disk capacities.)

Here’s their release (geek alert):

“FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc. today announced that in cooperation with IBM, they have demonstrated a world record in data density on linear magnetic tape – a density of 29.5 billion bits per square inch with magnetic tape media developed using the BaFe particle. The demonstration points to the possibility of developing a single tape cartridge capable of holding 35 terabytes of uncompressed data – at least 44 times the amount of data that the current Generation 4 LTO Ultrium data cartridge holds.

“This exciting achievement shows that tape storage is alive and strong and will continue to provide users reliable data protection, while maintaining a cost advantage over other storage technologies, including hard disk drives and flash,” said Cindy Grossman, Vice President, IBM Tape and Archive Storage Systems. On a per gigabyte basis, tape-based storage systems can cost a fraction of what comparable hard disk storage systems cost and unlike disks which typically spin continuously, tape cartridges in a library slot or on a shelf do not  consume energy, which can make tape systems a highly energy efficient solution.

Dramatic increases in the volume of data that enterprises generate, transfer and store today has driven the need for increased, reliable storage media. In order to further expand the storage capacity of tape media, it has become necessary to increase recording density by using smaller and smaller metal particles. “This process of metal particle micrification becomes challenging because of the risks of losing the high coercivity that is essential for high recording density,” said Norio Shibata, President & CEO, Fujifilm Recording Media USA, Inc. “Fujifilm is the first media manufacturer to overcome this challenge of maintaining high coercivity with the development of its micrified BaFe particle, which delivers superior storage with lower noise and higher frequency characteristics than other metal particles.” Fujifilm first demonstrated the technology’s superiority with IBM in its 2006 demonstration achieving a world record in data density on linear magnetic tape.

Employing its advanced NANOCUBIC technology, Fujifilm succeeded in micro-particulation of the BaFe particle to 1600nm³, the equivalent of one-third of the current metal particle volume, uniformly dispersed and coated on a super smooth thin magnetic layer. This next generation version of Nanocubic technology uses a new ultra-fine, perpendicularly-oriented barium-ferrite magnetic medium that enables high-density data recording without using expensive metal sputtering or evaporation coating methods.  Because Fujifilm’s new technology orients the particles in a perpendicular fashion and controls disposition at nanometer levels, it has also improved the tape’s running stability.  Together with IBM’s new servo format pattern, new signal processing technology, and low-friction head technology, Fujifim’s technology improved areal density dramatically, and achieved a density of 29.5 billion bits per square inch.

Globally, Fujifilm is committed to developing highly functional materials and has applied its most advanced materials science, most recently advanced NANOCUBIC technology, to innovate products and solutions in the data storage marketplace. The company’s commitment to the category has been demonstrated through their development of  high capacity and superior quality data storage media, such as the IBM 3592 data cartridge (640GB/1TB) for the enterprise data storage market. Fujifilm has maintained the largest production share of LTO Ultrium tape cartridges in the midrange data storage market, and will continue to lead the development of large capacity data storage media with its BaFe technology.

“We are hopeful about bringing this technology to market and believe it will change the face of tape storage,” said Peter Faulhaber, Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing, Fujifilm Recording Media USA, Inc. “Fujifilm’s BaFe technology will make tape more attractive to IT managers; we believe that tape has the potential to be the next generation storage solution as it meets all the core needs of the market – reliability, storage density, low cost and hardware compatibility.”

In the recent technology demonstration with IBM, Fujifilm’s product performance is attributed to:

Advanced NANO Particle Technology

Fujifilm’s new technology achieved the micro-particulation of BaFe particles to 1600nm³. (approximately one-third of the current metal particle volume).

The new NANO Particle Technology inhibited the variability of particle volume by micro-particulation, generating stable super-fine BaFe particles.

Advanced NANO Coating Technology

Fujifilm succeeded in the uniform coating of a super smooth thin magnetic layer with little thickness variability to reduce noise.

By adopting a new design of magnetic surface layer, Fujifilm achieved a smooth and low-friction magnetic surface layer and reduced the fluctuation of signal output drastically; contributing to the improvement of data density.

Advanced NANO Dispersion

A new dispersed material was used to control agglomeration of micrified particles, allowing   Fujifilm to succeed in uniform dispersion of super fine BaFe particles.

NANO Perpendicular Orientation

Fujifilm realized the high-performance orientation by controlling BaFe particle at nanometer size.

Taking advantage of BaFe particle’s crystal magnetic anisotropy, perpendicular orientation achieved the higher frequency characteristics.

About NANOCUBIC and Barium-Ferrite magnetic particles

Already recognized by the industry as an enterprise-class tape solution, Fujifilm NANOCUBIC technology combines nano-scale particles, a unique dual-coating process and advanced dispersion techniques to achieve an ultra-thin magnetic layer that produces higher resolution for recording digital data, ultra-low noise and high signal-to-noise ratios that are ideal for Magneto-Resistive and Giant Magneto-Resistive heads. Fujifilm’s next-generation tape storage media applies NANOCUBIC technology to barium-ferrite particles, a naturally stable crystalline particle that does not corrode or change chemically over time, making it an optimal particle for data storage applications. Due to the crystalline anisotropy, the ultra-fine barium-ferrite particles have high coercivity for superior performance high density recording. The unique Fujifilm NANOCUBIC technology coats the barium-ferrite particles in a very uniform manner (with thickness variation of less than 10 percent across the length of the tape), resulting in a much smoother magnetic surface to significantly enhance performance.



We can all rest easy now that IDC’s storage gap may never happen.  Of course, this was probably already the case with existing technology.  Seagate reported this week shipping 50 million disk drives in Q1 2010, and nearly 100 million drives in the last 6 months.

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