While researchers in academia have the luxury of playing around with exotic technologies like nano-clusters
, shape-shifting lasers
, and nanomagnetic vortices
, the engineers at Seagate know that they actually have to profit off of their research, so for now they're sticking with traditional magnetic recording techniques in order to push the limits of hard drive capacity with new and exciting storage densities. Using now-standard perpendicular recording heads and media manufactured with current production techniques, the company recently demoed drives with a record-breaking 421Gb/in² data density, which should allow for 500GB 2.5-inch notebook drives, 2.5TB 3.5-inch desktop drives, and 1-inch to 1.8-inch consumer electronics drives that can store between 40GB and an impressive 275GB, starting in 2009. Looking beyond perpendicular recording, Seagate researchers say that the still nascent Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) and bit patterned media techniques should eventually allow mind-boggling densities of up to 50Tb/in², which is surely more space than anyone could possibly need, ever. (We know that last part's actually untrue, but we just included it so that future generations perusing our archives can have a good, hindsight-enabled laugh at our naïveté).