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Electron beam machine ready to build next-gen HDDs

PM hard drives will offer huge amounts of storage space

When we told you back in February about Japanese plans to build jumbo hard drives using the new patterned media (PM) technique, we didn't expect to find a major corporation gearing up PM production within six months.

That's precisely what Pioneer has done with the announcement of an industrial machine it will sell to hard drive builders keen to offer PM drives with vast storage capacities.

Finest lines

The electron-beam recorder production line is currently being built at a subsidiary called Pioneer FA Corp and will be ready to crank out machines that can master PM drives by next summer.

The fact that the beam can draw lines just 16nm wide means that PM drives will have at least four times the capacity of standard magnetic hard drives. That will yield terabyte-class 1.8- and 2.5-inch drives and multiple-terabyte desktop drives.

It ain't cheap

Any firm interested in starting up a PM drive line won't find it a cheap undertaking – Pioneer says the mastering rig will cost ¥800 million (almost £4 million) a throw.

Even so, the first customer – Fuji Electric - has already signed on the dotted line, so PM drives will definitely be coming your way soon.