IBM sets world record in disk storage

IBM yesterday said its researchers have set a new world record in density for hard disk data storage, writing and reading data bits so small that 20 billion of them would fit within a square inch.

The record density of 20G bits per square inch (3.1G bits per square centimetre) is more than three times that of any disk drive available today, IBM said in a statement. It will allow computers to be developed which store much more data in the same amount of space, desktop users will have quicker access to large multimedia files and portable computers can be developed which are lighter and use less energy, IBM said.

At the density achieved, IBM said, every square inch of disk space could hold 2.5G bytes -- equivalent to two TV-quality movies, two hours of MPEG-2 digital video, almost as much as the contents of 4 CD-ROMs or the text of about 2,500 average-sized novels.

A team of scientists and engineers from IBM's Storage Systems Division set the record in a laboratory demonstration at IBM's Almaden Research Centre in San Jose, California. Technical details will be released next week at the International Magnetics Conference (Intermag 99) in Kyongju, Korea.

Since 1991, hard drive data density has increased at more than 60 percent each year, IBM said.

Separately, IBM on Tuesday introduced two new hard drive models, the Ultrastar 36ZX and 18LZX, which it said feature very rapid access to information stored on the hard drive. The two new models use a new technology called Cache Optimizer, which reduces their access times, leading to a dramatic increase in performance, IBM said. The Ultrastar is in limited distribution now and will ship in volume in June, IBM said.

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