Yes, I know it’s from March, but 500’000GB hard drives? Yowzah!
With areal density of 6.25TB (Terrabyte) per square inch, 3.5″ typical platter would be able to hold up about 49TB of data on one side. Two sides of such platter would handle about 98TB of information. Usually HDDs have from one to five platters inside, the maximum storage capabilities of upcoming HDDs would be up to 490TB, or approximately 0.5 of Petabyte. However, Seagate storage capacity may be limited by about 200TB, as the company does not use more than 2 platters in its HDDs today. (Emphasis mine)
HAMR technology will significantly extend the capacity of modern magnetic disc drives that use magnetic heads to read and write digital data onto spinning platters. HAMR achieves higher densities by using a laser-beam or other energy source to heat the recording medium at the same time that data bits are being recorded […] Seagate estimates that HAMR technology will be used in disc drive devices initially at 1Tb (terabit) per square inch densities, with a time to market of approximately 2010.
Imagine how such a thing will affect computer media. For instance, when Napster first hit the scene in 1999, broadband was a relatively new thing, nowhere near as widely available as it is today. The standard “CD quality” [sic] mp3 was about 128kbps, or about .96mb per minute of music. Today, about five years later, the minimum bitrate is 192kbps, or 1.44mb per minute (For a better explanation of bitrates, see my Audio Codec entry). However, among the audiophile circles, lossless compression such as FLAC or SHN, at as much as 5mb per minute, are popular. Superior video compression technologies mean that DVD quality movies can be stored in 700 or 1400mb files, but even now, 4.5gb DVD-+R disc images of popular movies are being swapped on file-sharing networks. As 8.9gb, dual-layer discs becomes popular, the size of those DVD-+ R images will increase to almost 9gb a pop. Hard drives today are huge (I personally have a 36gb, two 120gb, and 160gb, soon to own an additional 250gb), but at 8 or 9gb a movie, that won’t last long.
The question becomes, as these hard drives and similarly large optical mediums such as holographics discs become readily available for not just techies, but the Survivor-watching populace, how will the future of file-sharing and the bandwidth capabilities of internet providers cope? All the more reason for Internet 2 to succeed, in that it recently acheived a spit of 10Gbps (or 1.25gb per second, or, if you’re familiar with your download window saying something like “64.5kb per second,” it’s 1’125’000kb per second.
This is all fine and good, but will these sorts of speeds be readily available, even beyond 2010? Not likely. Just as it is today, consumers will be limited by their less-than-adequate service providers, slow site servers, and heavy network traffic. Still, one can expect that the data-intensive media of tomorrow, like uncompressed, multichannel music (think DVD audio) and extremely large movies will be to our pipelines what FLAC audio and DVD-R images are today.
Still, it’s progress.