If you think “I hate carrying around all those 2TB flash drives,” or “I wish someone made a hard drive larger than 10 terabytes,” then you’re in luck. A new drive designed by Dutch researchers promises to fit 62.5 terabytes on a drive the size of a postage stamp and is 500 times more dense than current solid-state drives. You might even call it an “atomic hard drive.”
The drive uses chlorine atoms on a copper surface to store data in a way that hasn’t been done previously. The downside is that it has to has to be cooled to a temperature of -346 degrees F using liquid nitrogen in an ultra-clean environment to run. Chlorine was chosen because its atoms are square on the copper surface, which enables them to be moved around like a puzzle (see the video below) leaving holes that each represent a bit.
But wait, there’s more on the storage front. Proving that magnetic tape is a long way from dead, IBM and Sony have jointly developed a new kind of tape that can reportedly hold roughly 25GB per square inch. That might not sound impressive, but it means that you can store 330TB of data in less space than a hard drive takes up.
The downside is that it’s not as fast as SSD’s or hard drives, but it makes a lot of sense for long term backup as it can store a tremendous amount of data in a small space.
Storage developments are important to anyone in audio these days since we’re all now in the data management business. The only difference is the degree of importance that our backups are to us. SSD’s wear out, and hard drives are subject to physical damage and obsolete interfaces, and that’s something that faces us all. Want to retrieve a file from 10 years ago? It might not be as easy as you think, but by keeping up with latest storage technology and updating our backups at regular intervals, we can be sure that data will be there to access it if and when we need it. But it still seems like we’ll be waiting for a while for the atomic hard drive.