Boston Globe Spotlights Research on Record-Breaking Data Storage Capacity


January 14, 2002

"Striving to push storage capacity beyond its limit," an article in today's Business section of The Boston Globe, cites four ECE professors from Carnegie Mellon University's Data Storage Systems Center (DSSC). Partnered with Seagate Technology, the DSCC was recently awarded a $21.6 million matching grant from the Department of Commerce's Advanced Technology Program for a five-year study on Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR), a technology that could exceed current storage limits by a factor of 100 or more, according to Robert M. White, University Professor of ECE and Engineering and Public Policy and the DSSC. White said, "the development could be historic."

The new technology is designed to push past the wall that storage capacity has hit about every ten years since IBM shipped the first disk drive 46 years ago; White said the DSSC's work "is going to kick it for another decade." Excerpted from the article:

''We have materials that could, in principle, store information at densities hundreds of times higher than we have today, but we can't write on that material with conventional recording heads,'' explained Mark Kryder, University Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Senior Vice President of Seagate. ''HAMR will make it possible to write the data reliably and thus circumvent the so-called superparamagnetic limit.''

...The payoff may be smaller, cheaper disks that can fire up new applications -gizmos. Cheap hard disk storage enables personal video recorders, such as TiVo, which can record multiple TV programs simultaneously or ''pause'' live TV. Thirty music CDs could be stored in something the size of a thumbnail.

Some even envision a ''memory prosthesis,'' a handheld device that could record everything a person sees, hears, or does in the course of a day.

If that sounds frivolous, don't count it out, say James Bain, Senior Research Scientist, ECE and Ed Schlesinger, ECE Professor and Associate Department Head, who will lead the Carnegie Mellon portion of the program. Fifteen years ago, digital photography transmitted via computer sounded frivolous, but today, Schlesinger points out, the technology has stolen much business from Polaroid.

''Their technology went right out from under them,'' he said.

Related People:

T.E. Schlesinger

Robert White

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