Outside of Hollywood, lasers mounted on sharks is a technology that may never be realized. But in hard drives? The mad scientists at TDK on working on this very thing, and once completed, it has the potential to more than double the capacity of today's hard drives. This isn't a theoretical technology that's still years or decades away, but one that will manifest in shipping drives by late next year, according to reports.
The mechanical hard drive sitting in your rig at home utilizes rotating platters. In order to read and write data to and from the platters, a magnetic head gets as close as it can with crashing into them. It's pretty remarkable when you get into the science of it all, but also pretty limited. It gets increasingly difficult for platters to hold proper magnetic charges as more data is packed onto the platters, and that's going to be a problem moving forward.
Today's mechanical hard drives use magnetic heads to read and write data.
TDK's solution is to use lasers in conjunction with a high coercivity material that's stable at normal temperatures but has to be heated when writing data. The technology is called heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR). Using this new technology, TDK expects to able to build a 2.5-inch hard drive with 1TB platters. In the 3.5-inch space, this could translate to 8TB hard drives (four 4TB platters).