Loosely described, perpendicular storage increases the data density on a disk drive by storing individual bits in layers on top of each other, rather than side-by-side. Although researchers have speculated about as many as 10 distinct layers of storage, perpendicular recording currently uses two layers, effectively doubling the amount of data which can be stored in a particular area of a disk. Perpendicular storage also offers other advantages, including more efficient use of disk area, better tolerance of heat and temperature change (the disks are actually thicker), and raw performance improvements without increasing drive speeds, power consumption, and heat output.
Seagate’s Momentus 5400.3 runs at 4,200 rpm and features the Ultra ATA 100 Mbyte/sec interface (with a 1.5 Gbit/sec Serial ATA interface planned for later in 2006) and touts a data density of 132Gbits per square inch. The drive is designed to withstand 350 Gs of operating shock and up to 900 Gs of non-operating shock, making it ideal for notebook computers and portable applications as well as non-computing environments (printers, storage arrays, etc.) which may be subject to jarring or rough use.
Seagate has been a leading proponent of perpendicular recording, but it’s not the first company out the door: last August, Toshiba began shipping what it claimed to be the first perpendicular recording hard disk, a 1.8-inch, single-platter mechanism offering 40 GB of storage, and Japan’s Showa Denko KK claimed it actually beat Toshiba to market with a similar 40 GB, 1.8-inch unit.