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Graphene Could Make Magnetic Memory 1000x Denser

ScuttleMonkey posted about 5 years ago | from the more-digital-sardines-in-the-tin dept.

Data Storage 123

KentuckyFC writes "The density of magnetic memory depends on the size of the magnetic domains used to store bits. The current state-of-the-art uses cobalt-based grains some 8nm across, each containing about 50,000 atoms. Materials scientists think they can shrink the grains to 15,000 atoms but any smaller than that and the crystal structure of the grains is lost. That's a problem because the cobalt has to be arranged in a hexagonal close packing structure to ensure the stability of its magnetic field. Otherwise the field can spontaneously reverse and the data is lost. Now a group of German physicists say they can trick a pair of cobalt atoms into thinking they are in a hexagonal close packing structure by bonding them to a hexagonal carbon ring such as graphene or benzene. That's handy because the magnetic field associated with cobalt dimers is calculated to be far more stable than the field in a cobalt grain. And graphene and benzene rings are only 0.5 nm across, a size that could allow an increase in memory density of three orders of magnitude."

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123 comments

FIRST POST (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28520125)

Chemistry is Bullshit!

No, but (0, Redundant)

davidwr (791652) | about 5 years ago | (#28520599)

bullshit is chemistry, straight from a bovine chemical factory.

More room, yay! (3, Funny)

Knave75 (894961) | about 5 years ago | (#28520151)

Sweet, more room for p0rn. I mean, more room to store my philosophical musings about the world we live in...

Is there a difference? (4, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | about 5 years ago | (#28520565)

Sweet, more room for p0rn. I mean, more room to store my philosophical musings about the world we live in...

And the difference is what again?

Re:Is there a difference? (3, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#28521017)

There are more seeders for porn.

Re:Is there a difference? (1)

abuelos84 (1340505) | about 5 years ago | (#28521781)

Ha! Great!

Re:Is there a difference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28522525)

There are more seeders for porn.

Seeders...porn...there's a joke in there somewhere, but I just can't quite put my finger on it.

Re:Is there a difference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28522861)

ha... finger...

Re:Is there a difference? (1)

tyrione (134248) | about 5 years ago | (#28525307)

There are more seeders for porn.

Gives new meaning to the passage entitled, ``THE WAY TO SUCCEED--AND THE WAY TO SUCK EGGS!

Re:Is there a difference? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 5 years ago | (#28522811)

Sweet, more room for p0rn. I mean, more room to store my philosophical musings about the world we live in...

And the difference is what again?

One is for masturbation, the other is mental masturbation.

Who controls magnetism... (3, Interesting)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 5 years ago | (#28520159)

Diet Smith said, "He who controls magnetism, controls the world!"

-- I'm just not sure he knew exactly how that would come out to be true!

Re:Who controls magnetism... (0, Offtopic)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 5 years ago | (#28520331)

How exactly do you expect DHS to scan your exabyte disks at the border? Better gather all your porn and terrorism-related stuff into one convenient folder for them to find, so as not to inconvenience the dullards.
And what about those poor MediaDefender buffoons? Scanning a few exabytes for Madonna's pathetic wails could take them years.

Re:Who controls magnetism... (2, Funny)

peragrin (659227) | about 5 years ago | (#28520983)

i just rename good files as porn image files.

That way my data is hid by obscurity. And since it is porn it is freely shared thus backing up my data like a real man. by having the world mirror it.

Re:Who controls magnetism... (2, Informative)

crispin_bollocks (1144567) | about 5 years ago | (#28521457)

Makes me think of the time I downloaded a very large app disguised as a .wav file - after three hours of downloading, Windows kindly told me it wasn't a valid wav - poof, gone!!

Re:Who controls magnetism... (2, Informative)

Mister Whirly (964219) | about 5 years ago | (#28521943)

Next time try Save As instead of Run and that won't happen. (BTW the file was most likely still in your TEMP folder, just named something unrecognizable. But recovery would have been possible most likely.)

Re:Who controls magnetism... (1)

Khyber (864651) | about 5 years ago | (#28525541)

"by having the world mirror it."

This fits in nicely with my personal motto:

The internet is my file system. Bittorrent is my file browser.

Re:Who controls magnetism... (1)

emlyncorrin (818871) | about 5 years ago | (#28525557)

i just rename good files as porn image files.

What, you mean you leave them unchanged then?

Re:Who controls magnetism... (1)

kestasjk (933987) | about 5 years ago | (#28520507)

I hope he's right..

-- Magneto

Re:Who controls magnetism... (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 5 years ago | (#28520633)

Must have been talking about Magneto.

1000x denser (0, Redundant)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | about 5 years ago | (#28520187)

Now a group of German physicists say they can trick a pair of cobalt atoms into thinking they are in a hexagonal close packing structure by bonding them to a hexagonal carbon ring such as graphene or benzene.

If only I could trick my pr0n collection into thinking (there's so much of it it's become self-aware) it's in a hexagonal close packing structure, I could archive onto 3½" floppies :-)

Re:1000x denser (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | about 5 years ago | (#28520393)

If only I could trick my pr0n collection into thinking ...it's in a hexagonal close packing structure

OK, just stop right there. Porn and beehives do NOT mix.

Re:1000x denser (5, Funny)

Shillo (64681) | about 5 years ago | (#28520477)

OK, just stop right there. Porn and beehives do NOT mix.

Rule 34.

Re:1000x denser (2, Funny)

Wingman 5 (551897) | about 5 years ago | (#28521469)

Bee Porn [youtube.com]

Re:1000x denser (1)

crispin_bollocks (1144567) | about 5 years ago | (#28521501)

I thought I'd seen everything, but I must have missed hexagonal close-packed pr0n - damn!

How to fill up the storage? (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 5 years ago | (#28520201)

It's already a challenge to fill a 60GB MP3 player with MP3s. I have 9TB of disks on the network at home, and it's less than half full, even with all of our CDs and DVDs ripped onto the server - and of the 9TB, we use 6TB as double backup of the 3TB primary storage.
What's a person to do when disk capacities increase by another 3 orders of magnitude?

Re:How to fill up the storage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28520399)

dude - 9TB doesn't even store half my dvd collection, and my cd collection, ripped lossless takes up a helluva lot more than 60GB (collected over 23+ years) ....

Re:How to fill up the storage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28523159)

can i come over and copy some stuff!

Re:How to fill up the storage? (4, Insightful)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | about 5 years ago | (#28520581)

What's a person to do when disk capacities increase by another 3 orders of magnitude?

Storage requirement is going up, relentlessly:
VCD = 700Mb
DVD = 4.7Gb
Dual-layer Blu-ray = 50Gb (potentially 100Gb; 4 layer @ 25Gb per layer.

And don't forget that Ch-erman scientists never sleep:-)

Re:How to fill up the storage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28524557)

Why quote single layer for DVD and dual layer for Blu-ray? Just wondering.

Re:How to fill up the storage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28520757)

You obviously don't have nearly enough pr0n.

Seriously though: a smallish (300-bed) hospital in my area maintains a 48TB SAN for patient data until it's moved to permanent archival. The data stored there is typically never more than two months old - of course it's used for everything from daily patient notes to complete sets of CT-scans.

I don't have any idea how much storage is in their archive - but I was told it's "a lot".

I want to see a 1TB iPod Touch by 2011!

Re:How to fill up the storage? (1)

PoliticalGamer (1548891) | about 5 years ago | (#28520779)

I think this would mostly be used for archiving purposes (magnetic tape tends to last longer than most other storage mediums), in which case it would be fairly easy to fill up such space.

Re:How to fill up the storage? (2, Informative)

walt-sjc (145127) | about 5 years ago | (#28522969)

You are thinking wrong. Instead of thinking of disk capacities increasing by 3 orders of magnitude, think of disks as shrinking nice and small (1 1/2"), using a lot less power and generating less heat yet being faster and storing twice the data of today's drives. Netbooks with the storage capacity of a large desktop of today.

Re:How to fill up the storage? (1)

Quantumstate (1295210) | about 5 years ago | (#28525651)

Why would a smaller disk be faster? Data can be read more rapidly from the outside of a conventional hard disk because it moves more rapidly than the inside. So shrinking the disk would give a slower read unless you upped the rpm which would increase power.

Re:How to fill up the storage? (1)

MR.Mic (937158) | about 5 years ago | (#28525735)

You're forgetting that data density also increases, which means a platter would have to rotate much slower to pass the same amount of information under a read head.

Re:How to fill up the storage? (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 5 years ago | (#28523173)

If Tivo upgrades their software (and/or the Tivo tools developers figure out some upgrades), the storage will be useful to be able to record everything in HD and not fill up your drive darn quickly.

Re:How to fill up the storage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28525705)

How about datacenters that needs to make and store backups of thousands of servers? That would certainly fill up the storage (since all servers all full of pr0n)

Not again! (4, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | about 5 years ago | (#28520203)

Let me guess. They're going to stick this stuff to a platter and spin it past some sort of electromagnet. I want terabyte USB thumb drives, not yet another mechanical storage device.

Re:Not again! (2, Interesting)

denis-The-menace (471988) | about 5 years ago | (#28520383)

I would worry too much.
Tape seems to be on the way out because it can't keep up with the density requirements (Data silos anyone?)

Some places now just mirror to other hard drives.
-Some are smart and take those HDs off line and treat them like tapes.
-Some are idiots and leave them online only to find them corrupt like the main disks (I read that somewhere...)

Anyhow, it seems we are going to mimic Star Trek and just not bother to have backups for computer systems...

Re:Not again! (5, Interesting)

sexconker (1179573) | about 5 years ago | (#28520439)

Tape is still very much "in" if you're talking about long term storage.

Re:Not again! (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | about 5 years ago | (#28520713)

Indeed, I know of a government institution that just invested in a 7 loader tape library (read room).

Tapes are not dead, and anyone who ignores their worth ends up paying the price.

Re:Not again! (1)

crispytwo (1144275) | about 5 years ago | (#28521201)

Clearly you've never tried to recover a tape! Especially problematic when the tape drive dies. How many tape drives do you have in stock?

Long term - my ass! Reliable - bah! Cheap? no.

Hard-drives are surprisingly superior.

Re:Not again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28521807)

Especially problematic when the tape drive dies.

Worse, when a DLT drive dies with the tape inside of it. I had to dismantle one to retrieve a tape once, which obviously voided the warranty we were hoping to make use of (and destroyed the tape, too). Tapes are now encrypted despite this being a major pain in the ass (why do backup systems suck so bad?) as well as causing the compression ratio to drop.

Re:Not again! (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | about 5 years ago | (#28522843)

No problems here, we have two of each generation of tape drive (prod+dr) and when we upgrade we retire them into storage instead of throwing them into the landfill. If our drives were inoperable or we couldn't get them hooked up easily there are companies out there that specialize in retrieval from tape. Beyond that the failure rate for LTO in my experience is vanishingly low, we put over 100 tapes a month through our libraries and I think we've had two failed tapes in the last 3 years and one of those was dropped on its edge so completely understandable. All our tapes go through verification on a different drive than wrote them and we do test restores both at prod and DR. My experience with DLT was almost as good. If you use anything cheaper than DLT then you aren't really using tape meant to be reliable IMHO. The farthest back we have been asked to go was 15 years for documents related to property taxes which can apparently be refiled for up to 20 years in some jurisdiction, no problem recovering the DLT tapes (well, there were filesystem and format problems, but nothing related to the tapes and even those were fairly easily overcome).

Re:Not again! (2, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 5 years ago | (#28522887)

Long term - my ass! Reliable - bah! Cheap? no.

Hard-drives are surprisingly superior.

Check out the BER on any modern tape and compare it to the BER on any hard disk.
For example -
Current model Seagate Barracuda ES drives - 1x10^-15.
Current model HP LTO drives 1x10^-17.

That's two orders of magnitude better. Furthermore, consumer grade disks which are significantly cheaper (and thus competitive with tape) tend to be an additional order of magnitude worse.

Re:Not again! (1)

glwtta (532858) | about 5 years ago | (#28523131)

Especially problematic when the tape drive dies. How many tape drives do you have in stock?

The thing is, I can get new tape drives, as many as necessary, in fact. With hard drives, you pretty much get the one shot (or it becomes impractically expensive).

Re:Not again! (1)

steelfood (895457) | about 5 years ago | (#28520699)

Anyhow, it seems we are going to mimic Star Trek and just not bother to have backups for computer systems...

Or just put it up online and somebody somewhere will have a cached version of it within a few days. All you need to do is link to your webserver from your blog.

Re:Not again! (2, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | about 5 years ago | (#28521393)

Anyhow, it seems we are going to mimic Star Trek and just not bother to have backups for computer systems...

The Enterprise keeps backups in a protected archive in the computer core. In Contagion [memory-alpha.org] , La Forge restores the corrupted memory caused by an Iconian probe by shutting down the computers, wiping the memory, and restoring systems from the protected archives.

Re:Not again! (1)

basementman (1475159) | about 5 years ago | (#28520385)

Screw that, I want my humans thumbs to be made out of this stuff. Think about the gaming possibilities!

Re:Not again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28520495)

Sorry dude, spinning magnetic media is just too cheap to lose at this point. Maybe when solid state solution are as reliable and cheap you will have your perfect world.

Re:Not again! (1)

turing_m (1030530) | about 5 years ago | (#28521663)

I want terabyte USB thumb drives, not yet another mechanical storage device.

That day may come sooner than I'd thought. It looks like they even have 256Gb thumb drives now, last time I checked the largest was only 32Gb (which is now the sweet spot in $/GB). I'd still like to have all the data I own on 1 disk with another disk or two as backup. If mechanical gets me there sooner so be it. Currently mechanical is 1/20 of the cost of USB flash, comparing lowest $/GB media. 10Tb HDDs should be here in 2013, according to Hitachi.

But I can certainly understand the cool factor in terabyte thumb drives, especially with USB3 making an appearance. To be honest, my mind boggles at how far computing has come since the days of the C64 era. And there still will be a need for different storage media out to at least 5 years - USB flash for transporting data quickly on your person, SSD for anything requiring quick seeks, HDD for storing all your data at home. Hopefully there will also be something flash based to supersede tapes for archival purposes too.

Re:Not again! (1)

Anarchduke (1551707) | about 5 years ago | (#28522409)

Wow, yeah I remember loading games onto my Commodore using the "Datassette" [wikipedia.org] cassette tape data drive. And learning to program in Basic.

Re:Not again! (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 5 years ago | (#28523427)

I want petabyte hard drives to store and backup all the stuff that's too big to fit on my terabyte USB drives.

Re:Not again! (1)

Khyber (864651) | about 5 years ago | (#28525563)

"I want terabyte USB thumb drives, not yet another mechanical storage device."

Phase Change Memory to the rescue! the same glass substrate used in rewritable optical discs turned into a solid-state solution, with a couple of orders of magnitude more read/write cycles than current flash today.

2.5" laptop drive holding about 5TB of data and being able to access any of it at above SATA-II speeds isn't even the start of this technology, FYI.

What a coincidence! (5, Funny)

somersault (912633) | about 5 years ago | (#28520207)

German physicists say they can trick a pair of cobalt atoms into thinking they are in a hexagonal close packing structure by bonding them to a hexagonal carbon ring such as graphene or benzene

I have a friend who was tricked into thinking he was a hexagonal close packing structure after spending a bit too much time around benzene.

Lets show 'em what a walkman can do! (3, Funny)

gooseupfront (1120847) | about 5 years ago | (#28520219)

Does this mean my walkman will hold 45,000 minutes of music? take that iPod!

AH! (1)

alexborges (313924) | about 5 years ago | (#28520221)

....a size that could allow an increase in memory density of three orders of magnitude."

So that is good, yes?

Re:AH! (2)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | about 5 years ago | (#28520521)

Yes, that's damn good. Three orders of magnitude is very roughly a full decade's worth of progress in the hard drive world. Whoever did the graphene work has really earned their pay.

Re:AH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28520759)

i think this needs ca. ten Years of development, till devices hit the shelves.

This is normal process in Storage development.
Remember GMR and such

More room but---- (4, Funny)

KingPin27 (1290730) | about 5 years ago | (#28520267)

FTA:

say they can trick a pair of cobalt atoms into thinking they are in a hexagonal close packing structure by bonding them to a hexagonal carbon ring such as graphene or benzene.

...

the cobalt has to be arranged in a hexagonal close packing structure to ensure the stability of its magnetic field. Otherwise the field can spontaneously reverse and the data is lost.

So one day the atoms might just realize that they've been tricked and you'll end up with your computer on fire because your benzene chains have all broken and you end up with 2-methyl-1,3,5-trinitrobenzene

Re:More room but---- (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 5 years ago | (#28520329)

So one day the atoms might just realize that they've been tricked and you'll end up with your computer on fire because your benzene chains have all broken and you end up with 2-methyl-1,3,5-trinitrobenzene

Meh. That'll only be a problem for the overclockers with liquid nitrogen cooling. The rest of us will just end up with a pile of cobalt and a bunch of hexamethyl chickenwire.

Re:More room but---- (5, Informative)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 5 years ago | (#28520443)

So one day the atoms might just realize that they've been tricked and you'll end up with your computer on fire because your benzene chains have all broken and you end up with 2-methyl-1,3,5-trinitrobenzene

Actually, the explosive yield is greater if you omit the methyl group. Trinitrobenzene out-booms trinitrotoluene, but is harder to handle due to its lower stability.

Re:More room but---- (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28520705)

Wow. This thread of replies was one of the more nerdy ones I've ever seen. Nice job fellas.

Re:More room but---- (1)

abuelos84 (1340505) | about 5 years ago | (#28521923)

yeah, we like this stuff.

Re:More room but---- (1)

krenshala (178676) | about 5 years ago | (#28522047)

Just goes to show, post quality is (usually) inversely proportional to /. id

Re:More room but---- (1)

dimeglio (456244) | about 5 years ago | (#28520881)

the cobalt has to be arranged in a hexagonal close packing structure to ensure the stability of its magnetic field. Otherwise the field can spontaneously reverse and the data is lost.

So one day the atoms might just realize that they've been tricked and you'll end up with your computer on fire because your benzene chains have all broken and you end up with
2-methyl-1,3,5-trinitrobenzene

Yeah, and not to mention that cobalt atoms can be very nasty [wikipedia.org] if they decide to isotope themselves. Will the EPA to allow them in PCs?

Early beta tst (5, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | about 5 years ago | (#28520525)

I trhed an e"rlx be|a tast.( Uhe res7ltw w%ren/t so pretpyn

Useless if the speed is the same (1)

Macka (9388) | about 5 years ago | (#28520585)

Well this is all fine and dandy for storage space, but what about performance? Drives are getting bigger all the time, but you're still stuck with spindles that rotate at the same speeds as the ones from last year, or the year before. I can't see anyone wanting to replace their speedy many-spindle database disk farm with a single 320TB disk that still spins at 10Krpm and only delivers ~125 IOPS. Performance is going to suck big time. All the top TPS benchmark results for example are achieved using 1000's of disks to max out the IO speed and make the database fly.

Re:Useless if the speed is the same (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28520673)

As data density increases, so does the rate at which it can be read. Assuming two orders of magnitude increase (100x) and individual bits staying roughly the same shape, the linear density increases by a single order of magnitude. (10x bits per track, 10x tracks). The drive will be able to read at 10x the speed.

At 3 orders of magnitude, you can expect a read speed improvement of roughly 3000%. (sqrt(1000) ~31.6)

Re:Useless if the speed is the same (2, Interesting)

Macka (9388) | about 5 years ago | (#28520907)

Ok sequential IO is going to improve some as more data will pass under the head compared to todays disks. But Random IO isn't going to feel the same benefit because that's influenced more by Rotational Delay (fixed by spin speed) and the time it takes for the head to shift between tracks: Disk Seek. So your figures are going to be wildly off in real life.

Re:Useless if the speed is the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28521493)

I wonder why the arm has only one head (& thus reads only one track at a time). Why can't they make an arm from the center to the edge and dot it with heads. I think it would dramatically reduce seek times.

with 31.6x linear increase, the tracks will be that much closer. rotational delay will still be there.

Re:Useless if the speed is the same (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 5 years ago | (#28522469)

First, random IO is mainly dependent on seek time, not rotation speed.

But we try to not do random IO at disks anyway, currently people are quite good at avoiding it.

Re:Useless if the speed is the same (1)

afidel (530433) | about 5 years ago | (#28522923)

Worst case seek time is limited by rotational latency and the speed you can slam the head from the inside of the platter to the outside and get it under control. Luckily with increased density we are able to shrink the platters needed to achieve a given amount of storage thus decreasing the latter metric, the first should be shrinkable with decreased mass but the best I've seen is 20k rpm drives which never really took off. It's a very real limitation in today's enterprise, SSD's largely solve the problem but they are incredibly expensive per unit storage so they only get used in niche applications like the log volumes for high transaction databases (and the cache for our BI application in my most recent use case).

Re:Useless if the speed is the same (1)

rdebath (884132) | about 5 years ago | (#28525341)

No, you currently avoid it in your applications by defragmenting, in effect paying the price of slow seeks when you're not waiting for the machine. In the worst case you will end up doing defragmentation all the time ...

For applications that pressure the drives, ie databases, seek times are very, very important. A modern database system will tend to have multiple drives (doubling the number of drives halves the effective seek time ... IF you're lucky) and only uses the start of larger drives (reduces the seek time to little more than the rotational latency, the rotational latency of a 15k drive is 4ms). But even with this the seek times dominate the performance.

Actual numbers: On a single 15k drive, if you manage to get 64k reads and writes it's just under 16Mbytes/s but an 8k block size gets you only TWO megabytes per second! Just imagine how much difference a flash drive that manages 200Mb/s random can make, even 40Mb/s is a massive improvement.

This seek time problem is why the first database optimisation for ms-sql is to move the log file onto a distinct spindle from the database file.

Re:Useless if the speed is the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28520853)

Who would do that?

You run a database off of a decent RAID if you're worried about performance or data security. You wouldn't replace it all with one drive for the same reason that we haven't replaced our social security numbers with our initials.

Re:Useless if the speed is the same (5, Interesting)

Chyeld (713439) | about 5 years ago | (#28521375)

Back when I was in college one of the 'cool' old Comp Sci professors had a tale he liked to share with his classes on the first day. I had him in a couple of classes, so I heard it over and over again. His presentation made it an amusing story if you could get over the fact that he smelt as if he lived in an ashtray.

It seems that back in the mainframe days, the standard way of increasing storage size on your hard drives was to make a bigger platter. Seems rather simple, right? The storage size grows exponentially with its radius. So adding an inch each time can lead to some fairly nice results, and with some platters topping out at 24 inches, that's some space.

Except....

One day, the university ordered the 'latest' hard drive for one of their mainframes. I'm sure it was a behemoth, it probably held around 50 meg. The vendor came by and installed it, and everything seemed fine till a few months later when the drive seemed to start failing, at about 30% capacity, writes stopped working and anything written to seemed to have been corrupted. They were puzzled, but this is why such things service contracts. The vendor came out, replaced the drive, and everyone went on with life.

Till it happened again, at about the same capacity. Another replacement was made and vendor was quite red-faced and explained that they seemed to have run into a batch of dud drives. All was forgiven and life went on.

Till, it happened the third time. At this point, it was starting to embarrass everyone: The vendor, the people who ordered the hard drive in the first place, etc. So this time, instead of just allowing the vendor to take the drive back, the dean of the department demanded they diagnose the issue there on the spot.

Now, this wasn't the age of the sealed drive cases, certainly drives were still kept 'clean' but we weren't to the point yet where a single grain of dust could wipe out megabytes of info (heck, even the 24 inch platters needed to be in arrays of 50+ just dream of hitting 100 meg) so cracking open the drive wasn't that big of a deal.

So the vendor's tech, hoping to appease a clearly angry customer in the day and age when parts cost tens of thousands of dollars, popped open the drive.

Want to guess what they found?

Larger disks do indeed result in more surface area, but they also result in a higher centrifugal force on the edges. An increased force which the vendor apparently hadn't accounted for. Once the disks began to spin up, the glue holding the magnetic dust to the platter gave way, resulting in the platters being stripped clean after a certain radial length from the center. The disks themselves were fine up to that point, the dust was plastered to the case itself and when the platters came up to speed any dust that had fallen back onto them was once again flung up against the case.

The reason why the disks didn't seem to fail till they reached a certain capacity was simply because they weren't being used in a RAM fashion but were being written to in a sequential manner. The outer portions of the platters were only being hit once the inner portions were written to.

Perhaps the reason spindle speeds haven't gone up lately could be part of the same issue. Or perhaps I'm simply indulging in a bit of pointless nostalgia as I wait for this report I'm running to finish. Who knows...?

Re:Useless if the speed is the same (2, Informative)

The Slashdot 8Ball (1491493) | about 5 years ago | (#28521617)

The storage size grows exponentially with its radius.

At a fixed data density (and a fixed number of platters), storage is proportional to the area of the platter, which is proportional to the square of the radius.

Storage size grows quadratically with its radius, not exponentially.

Re:Useless if the speed is the same (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 5 years ago | (#28523463)

Perhaps the reason spindle speeds haven't gone up lately could be part of the same issue. Or perhaps I'm simply indulging in a bit of pointless nostalgia as I wait for this report I'm running to finish. Who knows...?

Close, but not quite. The 'dust' isn't going to fly off, but the disks will expand, throw off track alignment, and risk rubbing against other parts. The platters on a 7200RPM drive use almost the full 3.5", however the platters on a 10K or 15K drive are typically much smaller diameter.

Re:Useless if the speed is the same (1)

rdebath (884132) | about 5 years ago | (#28525205)

You're pretty close, except it isn't the magnetic coating that gets flung off nowadays. It's the glass or metal disks themselves that start to ooze toward the edge of the drive.

Then there's the momentum, if you're holding a running 15k drive and it's bearing seizes it has a very good chance of jumping out of your hand. (I've had that happen with a 7k2 drive, it didn't have much chance of escaping but it was very noticeable) Much more and it'll start damaging equipment around it.

Both of these are good reasons for there not being any 5.25" hard drives anymore.

Anyway huge storage isn't useless with slow access, it's just that it's "nearline" storage rather than "online" storage.

Great for semicondcutors too (1, Informative)

anexanhume (1375619) | about 5 years ago | (#28520749)

Graphene also has great potential for transistors. Graphene has insanely high electron and hole mobility characteristics, making it ideal for these devices. Devices of both types (n and p) have been fabricated in the lab: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphene#Integrated_circuits [wikipedia.org]

Math? (1)

sdo1 (213835) | about 5 years ago | (#28520845)

OK, what am I missing here? 0.5nm is 16 times smaller than 8nm. On a 2D platter, that's 256 times more dense, not 1000 times more dense.

-S

Re:Math? (1)

speed of lightx2 (1375759) | about 5 years ago | (#28521109)

wow, that even greater than I expected. Seven orders of magnitude!

Re:Math? (1)

Anti_Climax (447121) | about 5 years ago | (#28521115)

Not that it's necessarily the case, but I'd imagine there is some minimal spacing dictated by the strength of the magnetic fields in use. The smaller structures could allow for smaller spacing than would be allowable for their contemporaries.

Re: what are you missing? (1)

neonsignal (890658) | about 5 years ago | (#28521329)

- specmanship

Experiment? (2, Insightful)

feranick (858651) | about 5 years ago | (#28520947)

Before I can get excited, I need to know when this is proven experimentally. The FTA refers to a calculation. There are lots of possible things that are achieved with a calculation, but translating it in practice is a totally different matter. BTW, I am an experimentalist nanoscientist (working on graphene, actually), part of my daily job is to prove that computational results can be achieved in reality.

sounds dangerous (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 5 years ago | (#28520957)

isnt benzene a carcinogen?

Benzene [wikipedia.org]

Re:sounds dangerous (1)

Anti_Climax (447121) | about 5 years ago | (#28521275)

isnt benzene a carcinogen?

Sure, but if it were to somehow leave the device, that would mean there are cells that can no longer function. I can't imagine this could make it in the market if any appreciable amount benzene could be "lost" after manufacturing.

Though, if my math is correct, you only need about 1 picogram of Benzene for a Gigabyte worth of cells. Not worth considering even if it wasn't locked away inside a silicon and ceramic package...

Re:sounds dangerous (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about 5 years ago | (#28521453)

isnt benzene a carcinogen?

Not to worry -- we will put a big red sticker on the side of the drive that says "DO NOT EAT".

Re:sounds dangerous (1)

Wingman 5 (551897) | about 5 years ago | (#28521583)

Sodium [wikipedia.org] is dangerous...
Clorine [wikipedia.org] is dangerous...
Holy crap! I am shocked millions are not dead [wikipedia.org]

Re:sounds dangerous (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 5 years ago | (#28523695)

When mixed with DHMO, ClNa has been linked to 98% of shark attacks.

Re:sounds dangerous (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 5 years ago | (#28523455)

Chlorine is pretty toxic too. Better throw away that salt in your cupboard.

Re:sounds dangerous (1)

lxs (131946) | about 5 years ago | (#28525299)

But don't throw it in water or else the sodium will explode.

Tricking cobalt atoms!? (1)

mugurel (1424497) | about 5 years ago | (#28521633)

No thank you, that hard disk is morally defect!

call me stupid (1)

layer3switch (783864) | about 5 years ago | (#28522189)

1000x Denser ???
... 50,000 atoms ... to 15,000 atoms... 8nm across ... only 0.5nm across... could allow an increase in memory density of three orders of magnitude
three orders of magnitude? what kind of math is this???
The only question now is whether this team's calculations hold true in the real world.
I would like to see that calculation!

Okay, I'll call you stupid. (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 5 years ago | (#28523871)

It is believed that the current method of producing magnetic memory cells will reach a hard limit of ~15,000 cobalt atoms.

This article is about a totally new method of making memory cells, which only requires two cobalt atoms bonded to a graphene/benzene ring.

Re:call me stupid (1)

abies (607076) | about 5 years ago | (#28525645)

As you wish. "You are stupid".

Now when we got it done, let's read the article.

1) current state-of-the-art [...] 50,000 atoms[...]scientists think they can shrink [..] to 15,000 atoms
2) group of German physicists [...] pair of cobalt atoms [...] hexagonal carbon ring

I don't know how many atoms are in second case, but with estimate of 10-50, you will get 3 orders of magnitude from point 1.

Now, the sizes. 8nm versus 0.5nm (diameter, so I cut in in half)
4*4*pi is around 50.
0.25*0.25*pi is around 0.2
Difference is 250 times. I think that we can count it as 3 orders of magnitude with a bit of good will.

What was your question ?

AI? (1)

Plekto (1018050) | about 5 years ago | (#28522435)

This may be the breakthrough, though, that allows for the type of density that would be required for a human-analog type AI to be a reality.(currently it would take a small building to approximate a typical human brain)

Graphene or benzene? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28523709)

Graphene is extremely expensive and benzene is very cheap.
It sounds as if they argue whether to use diamonds or wood for their project.

Cobalt AI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28525235)

The news should read "Thinking cobalt detected for the first time in history".

More Linux! (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | about 5 years ago | (#28525575)

In a smaller space! Hooray!
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