This time next year you could be pre-ordering a 60TB HAMR hard drive

Western Digital has discovered a way to improve its hard drive capacity by up to five times the amount. In truth Seagate discovered the heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology, but it’s Western Digital which believes it can actually build it.

The HAMR method should allow for 3.5-inch hard drives to hold a staggering 60TB as soon as 2016. At the moment drives manage 750 gigabits per inch - the HAMR drive will cram in over 4 terabits per inch.

HAMR works by heating the hard disc surface with a laser while the magnetic head records data. This heat causes the data to shrink, increasing areal density. That’s combined with nanotube lubrication which allows the magnetic head to get closer to the disc surface. And the drive will be just as reliable as current drives, only with five times more capacity.

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Another method being developed by Western Digital uses helium to make disc layers lighter and spin speeds faster. The Ultrastar He6 should push storage up to 6TB in a single drive soon.

When either of these new drives will arrive specifically, or how much they will cost, remains to be seen.