You have to admire the survival qualities of HDDs. At this rate they'll be holding the data on the Starship Enterprise (you know we'll name a starship Enterprise one day!) as it jumps to the Milky Way...
Latest to save the hard drives from the technological scrap heap are actually two existing technologies which scientists have found can be thrown together to create vastly bigger disks.
The tech in question is Thermally-assisted Magnetic Recording (TAR) and Bit-patterned Recording (BPR). Both are complex, but in a nutshell the former heats micro areas of a drive space during the writing process and the latter isolates written data into tiny 'magnetic islands'.
Both methods are designed to avoid 'superparamagnetism' which is a troublesome by product of ever more densely filled drives whereby written data can bleed from one part of the drive to other nearby sectors corrupting their information.
The clever part are the flaws in TAR (micro heating an area with enough accuracy) and BPR (the need for very specific materials) cancel one another out because BPR makes TAR more accurate and TAR's heating preps drive areas so the specialised materials aren't required.
The result was testing which showed densities of up to 1TB per square inch (compared to the few hundred GB on today's drives) and that it has the potential to step up to 10TB per square inch. The limitation is speed with the process currently restricted to 250 megabits per second (about 30MB).
On the flip side, with TAR and BPR both known technologies, the hope is getting drives onto market that use their hybrid benefits won't take too long (though no timeframe was mentioned). To which I can only respond: 10 terabyte hard drives? Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!
Via Ars Technica