Laser-Heated Hard Drives Could Break Data Density Barrier

Scientists at Seagate Technology show that heat-assisted magnetic recording could break the looming terabit-per-square-inch data limit

3 min read

24 March 2009—The density of data on hard-disk drives has doubled every three years since they were invented in 1955. Today’s hard disks pack 500 gigabits on a square inch (6.45 square centimeters). But magnetic disk recording as it is done now will run out of steam in just one more doubling, at 1 terabit. Engineers at Seagate Technology’s research arm, in Pittsburgh, have built a prototype heat-assisted magnetic recording scheme, which has the potential to allow up to 50 Tb per square inch.

Hard disks today are made of ferromagnetic materials, typically cobalt alloys. Bits are recorded as tiny magnetized regions of the material—the magnetic fields of all the grains in the area are aligned in one of two directions. As densities go up, bit sizes go down, reaching a few tens of nanometers across at 1 Tb per square inch. At those dimensions, the grains become unstable; a small amount of heat is enough to make them flip their magnetization direction.

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The Spectacular Collapse of CryptoKitties, the First Big Blockchain Game

A cautionary tale of NFTs, Ethereum, and cryptocurrency security

8 min read
Vertical
Mountains and cresting waves made of cartoon cats and large green coins.
Frank Stockton
Pink

On 4 September 2018, someone known only as Rabono bought an angry cartoon cat named Dragon for 600 ether—an amount of Ethereum cryptocurrency worth about US $170,000 at the time, or $745,000 at the cryptocurrency’s value in July 2022.

It was by far the highest transaction yet for a nonfungible token (NFT), the then-new concept of a unique digital asset. And it was a headline-grabbing opportunity for CryptoKitties, the world’s first blockchain gaming hit. But the sky-high transaction obscured a more difficult truth: CryptoKitties was dying, and it had been for some time.

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