Current hard drives are capped at around three terabytes, with manufacturers such as Seagate and Western Digital constantly trying to push that envelope further, every year. This new drive would allow for a storage space of around 768 terabytes. That’s enough storage for around 31,000 Blu-rays, 200,000 DVDs or, if you really wanted to, 500 million floppies.
The technique records on ultra-thin, ferromagnetic films, and rapidly reverses the film’s magnetisation with a laser. Such reversal could take less than a nanosecond to achieve, meaning that the new magneto-optical drives would be faster, by up to thirty times current drive speeds, as well as much bigger.
However, magnetised ferromagnetic film is just one of many different technologies that have purported to make drives bigger, faster and one step ahead of the solid state memory that threatens their existence. But creating new storage tech has been notoriously hard to achieve.
For example, take proposed holographic data storage solutions. These work with light instead of magnetics, utilising non-linear recording and reading to enable massively fast data transfer rates. Researchers concentrating on this technology believed holographic hard drives could store data for more than 50 years, far exceeding magnetic drives life expectancy.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest holographic storage creators, InPhase Technologies, was shut down earlier this year. Despite working on the tech for over nine years, and spending upwards of $100 million (£63 million), the company closed its doors without ever shipping a product.
Another theoretical storage solution would see discs coated in light-sensitive proteins, produced by a genetically altered microbe. Such organic-tech could see up to 50 terabytes being held on a single disc. However, since prototypes were made in 2006, and promises for commercial USB drives and DVDs were made, we haven’t seen any info since.
It’s a hugely tough market to enter. With drives increasing in speed and capacity at meteoric rates, year on year, releasing a new type of storage technology is like trying to jump onto a speeding train." Wired.com