As the war between storage companies wages on, the primary target that everyone's focusing on is areal density, or a measure of how tightly data can be packed onto the surface of a disk. Although Seagate already holds the crown (for now) for magnetic recording density, the company's R&D department isn't slowing down to celebrate. While perpendicular implementations have been a successful start, it's expected to top out "around one terabit per square inch," while the division's goal is closer to "fifty terabits per square inch." Obviously, a large part of attaining such lofty goals comes from heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), but Seagate is now keying in on "bit-pattern media" to compliment said technology. On current disks, each bit is represented by "an island of about 50 magnetic grains, but since these patches are irregularly shaped, each dot must cover a certain area if it is to remain distinct." By chemically encoding an "organized molecular pattern onto the platter's substrate," however, HAMR can put a single bit on every grain, theoretically boosting the amount of data that can fit (and remain stable). Researchers also stated that disk sectors were quickly becoming a thing of the past, and that they hoped to replace them with "self-organized magnetic arrays, lithographically patterned along a platter's circumferential tracks." If all goes as planned, 3.5-inch drives holding "up to 300 terabits of information" could be readily available by 2012, and Seagate even plans to implement its data-squeezing principles into its "Probe" flash-like memory modules, which will definitely come in handy when we're all toting 500-megapixel digicams.