Hitachi lays down 20GB Microdrive design

Hitachi lays down 20GB Microdrive design

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When I first had a digital camera 6 years ago, I went all out and got the biggest card I could afford. The 340MB IBM Microdrive, today I use a 4GB Toshiba Microdrive, and soon, thanks to Hitachi’s brilliant engineering, I will be using a 20GB Microdrive.

Sure it is total overkill, and it’s a lot of data to trust to a single memory card, but if you are careful and don’t ever drop it you should have no problems. A rule which I go by that has prevented any disastrous memory crashes is to never ever take the drive out of your camera. Leave it in, always, only transfer over USB, if you constantly take the card in and out it or are putting it in a card reader, it is prone to being mishandled. The last thing you want is to have all your vacation photos lost because of a microdrive crash.

Hitachi plans to have the 2.5-inch 20GB Microdrive on the streets this year inside notebook computers, to create this storage they are using a new technology called “Perpendicular Recording”. Perpendicular recording has roots back in the early 19th century, it was used first by Danish scientist Valdemar Poulsen, he was considered the first person to magnetically record sound using perpendicular recording.

Perpendicular data recording takes less room in contrast than today’s longitudinal recording; it also has higher data integrity compared to longitudinal recording which has problems at areal densities beyond 120 Gb per square inch.

The bits recorded must be closer between the read/write head and the recording media, the 230 Gb per inch square density is so close that the distance between each bit is a mere 10 nanometers or 1/10,000th of a human hair.

This technology also means 3.5-inch hard drives will reach the one terabyte mark sooner than we think. Over the next 5-7 years, perpendicular recording could enable a 10-fold increase in data densities over longitudinal recording, paving the way for new heights in capacity such as a 60 GB one-inch drive.

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