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New sensor could lead to bigger, faster hard drives

New sensor could lead to bigger, faster hard drives

Solid-state drives are beginning to pop in more and more and more systems, but that doesn't mean the traditional hard drive with its quaint spinning platters doesn't have a few tricks up its sleeve. Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory in England think they've come up with a new read-head sensor design that can read more densely packed data on a disk thanks to something called the magneto-electric effect. (Today's drives rely on the magneto-resistance effect, if you're scoring at home.) While the sensor on your hard drive would have trouble reading anything more than 200 gigabits on a square inch, the new sensors could allow for data densities as high as 1 terabit per square inch. Not only would this lead to higher hard drive capacities, but also read times could be 10 times faster, and the drives could consume less energy. Two advantages SSD drives boast are faster access times and greater energy efficiency. It's just a theory right now, but one way or another (Toshiba and researchers in Japan are taking another route to greater data densities), it looks like we'll get there. MIT's Technology Review has all the gory details.