Disk drives win Nobel Prize in physics

Disk drives win Nobel Prize in physics

Summary: OK, two physicists who discovered Giant Magnetoresistance (GMR) didI went on a bit of a rant recently about how cool disk technology. Seems the Swedish Academy of Sciences, the organization that awards Nobel Prizes, agrees.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Storage
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OK, two physicists who discovered Giant Magnetoresistance (GMR) did I went on a bit of a rant recently about how cool disk technology. Seems the Swedish Academy of Sciences, the organization that awards Nobel Prizes, agrees.

GMR, disks and you If you like high capacity disks, you have GMR to thank. That's what Peter Gruenberg of the KFA research institute in Julich, Germany, and Albert Fert of the University of Paris-Sud independently discovered in the late 1980's.

They found very large resistance changes in materials made of alternating and very thin layers when exposed to magnetic fields. Nanometer thin, in fact.

The GMR effect enabled construction of super-sensitive read/write heads. GMR heads, in turn enabled much higher track and bit densities. More bits per square inch. As this chart from the Academy shows, GMR has accelerated drive density growth.

Disk drives win Nobel Prize in physics

Disk guys immediately saw the implications Researchers at IBM and other drive companies jumped on GMR. A lab demo is one thing; creating a low-cost, high-volume product is another. It took until 1997 for the first GMR head equipped drive to ship from IBM.

Will GMR make you a babe magnet? Will a Nobel Prize make storage sexy? Sadly, no. But I hope the drive vendors will start talking about their technology in a way that more consumers can relate to. It is a great story.

Comments welcome, of course.

Topics: Hardware, Storage

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