back to article MIT boffin: Salted disks hold SIX TIMES more data

A Singapore researcher claims that disk drives could hold six times more data by adding table salt to a bit-patterned media (BPM) process. This sounds bonkers but there is a pukka press release issued by Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) which describes Dr Joel Yang's work. Bit-patterning is a …


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  1. ChrisInBelgium

    Totally normal

    After all, it's like chips, they also taste 6 x better with salt on them!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      6 times better? 5.3956, you have to balance it with the guilt of eating too much salt!

    2. Gordon 10

      Even more amusing

      If Intel can apply this process to cpu's.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    #unplugs and opens hard drive#

    #sprinkles platters with table salt#

    #close and plugs drive back in#

    Oie! That didn't work any better than this "water cooling" thing I was told about!

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      You probably used salt with Iodine. Please try again with salt without Iodine.

      (Tablesalt can be bought both with and without as it's a good way of averting certain illnesses)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really?

      If you use the table salt and water cooling together, you will see a drastic change.

      1. Asgard

        @"use the table salt and water cooling together, you will see a drastic change."

        ... and as an added bonus, you can have a sea life aquarium in your PC.

  3. defiler

    Keep the fries salted!

    Looks like System Shock had it right all along.

    Could somebody grab my coat for me? Left it in Beta Grove...

  4. Geoff Thompson

    First Commercial

    I bet the first commercial one is a sea-gate

    Fetching coat

  5. amanfromearth

    It's obvious

    Everyone knows you need salt with your chips.

    Just think what they will be able to do when they discover the magical properties of vinegar.

  6. Atonnis


    I had to admit I was wondering if it was an April Fool's come late...

    ...I mean, imagine it - you can just see a thousand 1st and 2nd line support kiddies around the country all opening up their cases and pouring table salt all over the insides...

  7. The Prevaricator



    Come on el reg. Where's yer Libraries of Congress per milliWales conversion?

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Yeah, El Reg need to come up with a scale for something this small. Perhaps something based on the Jedward-Talent?

      ...or even the Beiber-Talent (ducks in case there are any True Beleibers lurking ready to pounce, not likely on El Reg but you never know...)

  8. nyelvmark

    If only...

    ..they could increase the size of hard drives as fast as they can increase the size of bloatware, we'd be getting somewhere.

  9. ElNumbre

    Great Idea...

    That looks great, right up to the point that the iron platters rust...

  10. Thomas 18
    Thumb Up

    Take this research...

    with a grain of salt.

  11. Ashton Black


    A sea change, if you will?

  12. Fred Mbogo

    We don't need bigger drives.

    We need faster storage.

    1. Alan Esworthy

      you got it

      If you mean disk storage, doubling (or more) the linear density will double the transfer rate assuming the associated controllers and paths can handle it, and I think they can.

      If you mean main memory storage, then see last week's article on memristor development with products coming in about a year.

  13. shobberlyridge

    500GB != 3TB

    "a 500GB 2.5-inch hard drive could hold 3TB" Uh?

    1. Ammaross Danan

      For the obvious:

      500GB-sized drive (assuming platter density gains of 6X as per the article) would scale and become a 3TB drive, based soley on same platter size with density gains.

      Granted, for those who didn't catch this, the explaination will probably be lost on you as well.

      1. shobberlyridge

        Agreed, but if it's a 500GB drive, it can't be a 3TB as well!

        It's a pedantic comment on grammar, not arithmetic.

  14. TeeCee Gold badge

    "table salt"

    Seeing that term used to describe actual salt in a tech article confused me so much that I've just sprinkled a load of pseudo-random characters on my chips.....

  15. Anonymous Coward 15

    Now all we need

    is for some researchers in Glasgow to invent a deep-fried one.

  16. hi_robb

    I think we need someone to write a Research Pepper...

    /gets coat and is dragged off stage left.

  17. jubtastic1


    3.3Gb seems like a colossal jump from 128bit salts

    /gets coat.

  18. TRT Silver badge

    I like the sound of salty bits.

  19. BinaryFu


    People are still using mechanical drives? Oh it for slow-access long-term storage units?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yea but...

    The storage density goes up, but future research will reveal that the average disk life declines due to increased risk of heart disease.

    <ba dum dum>

  21. Michael Habel

    So... how can the...

    Solid-state HDD Manufactures (ODMs and or OEMs), plain to make their Gear more attractive to the Man on the Street? I mean a 3TB HDD (i.e. Platter Drive), for ca~ 150- € seems to me a more attractive proposition then say a 40GB ~ 60GB SSHD that cost 2x to 4x as much?

    And here I thought the Future was in Flash.

    Well not at this rate, and I for One welcome our bargain Basement 3TB 2.5" HDDs

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't wait 'til they add Prawn Cocktail..

  23. goats in pajamas

    This is nonsense.

    I soaked my hard drive in salt water and now it won't work!

  24. Jim O'Reilly

    Despite the salty comments...

    The real beneficiary of the increased density won't be 3.5" bulk drives at 20 TB. Look for 1.8" notebook drives replacing 2.5" and 2.5" replacing 3.5". It's worth noting that an array of (enterprise-class?) 1.8" drives will have 3x t0 4x the spindles of 2.5" in a front-access removable configuration, and maybe 6 to 8x in a non-removable bulk store configuration. With a 2x to 4x density gain of 2.5" over 3.5", we'd be looking at 6x the IOPs/U for removable and maybe 32x for non-removable bulk arrays.

    That's more than a little interesting, given the IOPS starvation systems are facing without some action.


      Big versus small

      Either way, you can still cram 4 or more laptop sized hard drives into a single full size drive bay on a desktop computer. That dramatically shrinks the footprint of a storage array that has some hope of meeting modern multimedia storage needs.

  25. Craig 2
    Thumb Up

    Just as always, stories of magnetic tech reaching insurmountable physical limits and now there seems a way to improve it dramatically. You'll never catch me saying `well, that's it for X technology`.

  26. The Prevaricator

    re: Units?

    Since nobody was interested in my previous post, I thought I'd make a stab:

    1 LoC (Library o' Congress) = ~80 Tb

    1 pWa (picoWales) = ~32.2 in^2

    Therefore: 3 Tb/in^2 comes out at being a barn-storming 7.5 LoC/pWa

    Not bad. If only I knew what it meant.

  27. TheWebIsMyKnowledgeBase...

    Can I have a 'P' please Bob...

    When I looked at the photos it just reminded me of a very large Blockbusters board...

  28. Silent but Deadly

    News just in...

    Two hard drives we out on the town last night and the higher caacity one was a salted.

  29. Gordon 10

    If it can be applied to power

    You could get laptops with a saltened battery.


  30. Herby

    This just in...

    Windows 9 will take 1TB of hard disk space. It stores all data as 32 bit characters, UTF-32 and all that. Program binaries take a gigabyte each.

    Disk space all taken up, please move along.

  31. Alan Brown Silver badge


    Higher density gives greater linear throughput.

    It does NOT give greater IOPS - seek times stay the same.

    Will applying salt to HDD arms reduce their inertia?

  32. Error Message Silver badge

    It's a PR scam

    The fact that it uses e-beam lithography means it's a scam. As anyone who uses e-beam lithography knows, just to lithograph a square centimeter would take a week or so.

  33. dssf

    And no rusting?

    I wonder whether MSG can be used as a cheap substitute.

  34. Angus 2


    When I first scanned the first paragraph and saw (A*STAR) I immediately assumed the "*" had been put there instead of an "S".

    It was a WTF moment.

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