Hard Drive Makers Get No Respect

By David Morgenstern  |  Posted 09-14-2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif.—While busy celebrating the 50th anniversary of the invention of the hard disk drive, storage makers are looking toward the future at Diskcon USA. While technological progress looks steady for the short term, getting through the next 50 years may be a tougher climb, warned disk drive industry executives here.

This annual conference of the International Disk Drive Equipment and Materials Association is a gathering of drive makers, component vendors and suppliers of related production machinery and services such as testing equipment, robotics and clean room solutions. The panels span drive technology innovations, market directions and the supply chain for the drive business.

Much of first-day discussion involved the ways to continue the growth of storage capacity, called areal density, or the number of bits of data that can be packed on a disk platter. It is one of the perennial hot topics for this storage confab.

In his keynote address on Sept. 13, Seagate Technology Chief Technology Officer Mark Kryder said the industry has made significant progress in implementing perpendicular recording technology in drive lines. Unlike many past disk transitions, which had tweaked this or that component, perpendicular recording required changes to almost the entire head mechanism.

Yet, even as manufacturers are settling into ramping up the process for perpendicular recording drives, the makers see the density limits looming for the technology in the early part of the next decade.

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