Maxtor has demonstrated a way to double hard-disk recording density without adding significantly to the manufacturing cost, the company said yesterday.

The system, which uses Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR), can achieve areal densities equivalent to 175GB per platter compared with the current standard of 80GB per platter produced by Longitudinal Magnetic Recording (LMR).

The PMR manufacturing process, which uses the same equipment as the LMR process, has been demonstrated by Maxtor's wholly-owned subsidiary, MMC Technology.

The difference between LMR and PMR can be thought of as recording each data bit on a matchstick lying down (LMR) or standing on end (PMR). The more compact and efficient PMR process requires a recording medium with smaller grains of material, a special soft underlay (SUL) layer, and electronics capable of producing a better signal-to-noise ratio. These advances can be mass-produced using existing equipment, Maxtor said, with just an incremental cost for making media with a suitable SUL.

Lowering costs

The disk-drive industry continues to grapple with expanding customer demand for storage at lower costs. The amount of disk-storage sold will increase by 50 per cent per year over the next three years, but industry revenue will only grow by 0.8 per cent per year as the price per Gigabyte will drop from $40 in 2002 to $8 in 2006, according to Matt Massengill, chairman and CEO of Western Digital, speaking at an industry event in May.

"New recording technologies such as perpendicular recording are necessary to maintain hard-disk drive areal density growth trends," said John Kim, vice president at TrendFocus.

Maxtor did not say when production drives incorporating PMR would be released.