Fancy a Million-Gigabtye Hard Drive?

Thu, May 11, 2006


Image courtesy of wilhei55.

Researchers have finally found a way to create storage devices that are capable of storing millions of gigabytes of data. With the use of ferroelectric, the researchers from Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania are able to squeeze 12.8 million gigabytes of information into a cubic centimeter. Very amazing indeed.

Until recently, researchers were not able to find a method of stabilizing ferroelectricity on the nano-scale. It was this group of talented researchers that found out that water is in fact the answer to their problem. It has to do with the hydroxyl (OH) ions molecules found in water, which are capable of screening the charges.

Imagine the possibility of million-gigabyte hard drives. The amount of disk space might seem excessively generous, but I trust that when these drives become a reality, applications that truly leverage the obscene amount of space will start to sprout.

However, several researchers have suggested that significant challenges still lie ahead, such as methods of assembling the nanowires densely and efficiently reading and writing data to and from the nanowires.


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Leon - who has written 798 posts on

65 Comments For This Post

  1. Empire Says:

    Great Idea How Much ? And U think Ebay Would Have it Lol :D

  2. Matt Says:

    I think it would be more than a million gigabyte hard drive, I am not sure how much storage space there is in a hard drive but it is considerably more than a square centimeter.

    Just think in a few years time a hard drive in an iPod could have about 50 petabytes of space (51200 terabytes). Saying that an MP3 is 5 megabytes you could store about 11 billion songs on it. I think iTunes needs to start socking up

  3. Bogus Says:

    [Comment ID #2508 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Or perhaps people will move on to lossless formats. Hell, if I could store a song at 1 Gig a piece, that’s a million songs on one player at near-perfect quality.

  4. Smiles Says:

    I’m with Bogus,

    Can you believe people (like Matt) would rather get excited by the thought of 11 billion songs on one player in shitty 128kb MP3 format!!!

    I can’t believe people aren’t already crying out for a wider acceptance of lossless formats. This would at least take us back to a sound quality that was introduced at the time of the CD!!

    Mobility has always won out over quality (remember the cassete tape based walkman?)

  5. Matt Says:

    I am not just taken by the thought of 11 billion songs, for a start I would not be able to listen to them all. I am trying to put it into context for myself because that is a ridiculous amount of data.

    I am also thinking that the HD revolution will be very short lived, with that kind of storage HD will look 100×100 JPEG at a very low quolity setting.

  6. Smiles Says:

    I’m not entirely sure HD will be short lived either.

    Hard drive capacity has been climbing rapidly but the future of hard disc based media content is restricted by bandwidth.

    Broadband speeds are climbing but what about the cost of services fast enough to give us enough bandwidth to utilise media of greater quality than HD?

    I think it’s an exciting time to be alive and I hope enough of the public is able to support new streaming technology, this is when demand will bring these ideas to life!

  7. Sixstrings Says:

    Anyone see the show about how Star Trek changed the technological world of today? In there they said that teleportation (“Beam me up, Scottie”) would require an obscene amount of data (something about lining up 100gig hard drives back to back halfway to the sun, per person). Something like this would definitely make the task a lot easier. Hell! Soon we might be teleporting to the supermarket! Definitely a good way to solve the gas crisis.

  8. Dr.G Says:

    They said cubic centimetre people, not square, very significant difference there.

    Nevertheless, still can’t wait!


  9. Smiles Says:


    “the researchers from Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania are able to squeeze 12.8 million gigabytes of information into a cubic centimeter. Very amazing indeed.”

    They did say cubic centimeter!!!

    Read closer.

  10. khal Says:

    so we’re talking terabyte harddrives…. why didnt they just say that lol?

  11. Bogus Says:

    Well what sounds more impressive, “One Terrabyte” or “One Million Gigabytes!” ?

  12. Miles Says:

    Um, TeraByte is 1,000 GB

    PetaByte as was mentioned is One Million 1,000,000 Gigabytes

  13. Brokenantimatter Says:

    I am sorry to say but this is very unimpressive. Bell-Labs accomplished this back in 94(may have been 92) and their square centimetter held 12tera bytes. They had gotten the idea from Star Trek btw, it uses electricity to form and manipulate trillions of microscopic synthetic crystals to resemble binary data.

  14. Cheesaw Says:

    [Comment ID #2533 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Yeah, but where is it on the marketplace? It probably didn’t show up because it wasn’t a comercially feasible technology. Maybe this will be.

  15. nj Says:

    How can HD be short-lived if most 35mm film hardly outperforms its 2 MP-resolution, especially when the smaller area used, compared to the same format in a still camera, plus the process of analog copying is taken into account?
    For a real jump above this resolution, like the Japanese 33 MP UHD-Standard (7.6k-resolution or 4x HD), special, bulky cameras (at least 70mm) are needed, and these can bring up problems with their narrow depth of field: DOF decreases as film/sensor area increases, and stopping down the lens only yields a linear gain in DOF, while it causes an exponential loss of light. But if you shoot at 3200 ISO, there won’t be much of that great resolution left, and unlike a still photographer, you’ll be limited to no more than 1/24s exposure.

    There are physical limits to what is achievable in filming.

  16. Sixstrings Says:

    [Comment ID #2526 Will Be Quoted Here]

    My guess is that they wanted it to sound even more impressive…. as if it wasn’t impressive enough.

  17. Miles Says:

    [Comment ID #2533 Will Be Quoted Here]

    12 Terabytes.

    This article is talking about 12 Petabytes, they win, it is 1,000 times as much
    [Comment ID #2542 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Once again, they would have said they were talking about Petabyte hard drives, that is more impressive.

    12,800 Terabytes to be precise.

    Read this table to see the prefixes, note what Giga, Tera and Peta equal

  18. Xad Says:

    Wonder how many years, or even decades we’ll have to wait until they create a working prototype.

    Imagine formatting that sized drive – or even the drive becoming corrupt/damaged. Petabytes of data vanished in an instant.

    I hope it doesn’t take too long, i’m always running out of space even with 450 gigs of hard drive space.

  19. Xad Says:

    more offcial info here:

  20. khal Says:

    so exa is the next one up… but i dont think that hard drive would be that big.

  21. lex Says:

    [Comment ID #2516 Will Be Quoted Here]

    There is a much easier way to fix the gas crisis, they has been the invention of a water powered car, if the big wigs didnt kill the creator, the whole world would be using a water powered car which does 100mpg and can use sea water, rain water and tap water.

  22. Xad Says:

    [Comment ID #2585 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Any news links to that talk about this? I haven’t heard of any water engine inventor being killed and would like to read more about this.

  23. Steven Says:


    I believe Lex is talking about Stanley A Meyer.

    Before he mysteriously died(via poison) he created several patents and documentation about what he was able to do. These included things like explaining the hydrogen fracturing process.

    He was even interviewed by a news crew and offered about 1billion by an arab so that it can just sit on a shelf.

    all documentation and vids is on this site it isnt the same site i first read stuff on though.

    Hope that helps ya.

    A bit off course from the origianl discussion but heh, the nets all about learning, and so is this site!

  24. David Says:

    The people saying they want a 1 Gb mp3 are mostly retarded… mostly.

    Do you really want to spend 15 minutes to an hour transferring one album
    from your desktop to your stupid trendy ipod you’re probably so proud of?

    Most of you claming 128 kilobit mp3 is “lossy” probably couldn’t tell me
    which is a 128 and which is a 192 if I played them both for you right now.
    And that is a SLIGHT difference in file size. Anyone who thinks making an
    mp3 1 Gb is a moron.

  25. B ogus Says:

    Aye, a 1GB MP3 would be dumb- because by nature MP3 is a lossy format. Having another format of a larger filesize would make sense, and realistically, by the time we’ve got Petabytes of storage on an iPod sized device, we’ll have machines fast enough to process files that size quickly.

  26. jinjaninja Says:

    This will give you a full rundown of sizes.

    I would like a 1 yottabyte drive for all my porn and a bandage for my wrist!!!

  27. Alex Says:

    [Comment ID #2537 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Regular 35mm film outperforms up to 11MP! Until 12MP, ther eis a quality difference that shows 35mm film to be better than your average MP camera.

  28. ckeeton12 Says:

    [Comment ID #2526 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Actually… a terabyte is 1000 gigabytes… i believe the correct term for 1 million gigabytes is an exabyte….

  29. nj Says:


    First, there is no “magic number” over which film outperforms as detail is reduced gradually. Yes, you can beat the 16 MPixel Canon 1DS’ resolution with high-res slide film.

    But we’re not talking about ISO 20 slide film here, we’re talking about 100, 200 or even higher ASA negative film, plus, at least right now, several generations of analog copies. Also, as I said, the 35mm movie format has a smaller surface than 35mm still photos.
    Especially at indoor scenes shot with high ASA film, you can easily see the strong noise and reduced detail at 1080i.

    You can’t compare movie film to the ~25 MP high-res slides a determined amateur or pro can produce with 35mm still cameras. There is a Panavision movie camera lens with a 300x zoom factor, that basically says everything.

  30. Miles Says:

    [Comment ID #2601 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Actually an Exa byte is One Billion GB,

    PetaByte is one Millon Gigabytes

    please read here:

    I keep posting that, nobody pays any attention

  31. Hey Jackasses Says:

    You’re all retarded… stop measuring this shit in decimal numbers. These numbers come in powers of two.

    Bunch of fucking teenagers

  32. Hooter Tooter Says:

    11 billion songs would take about 67,000 years to play @ 3 mins each. Might not need a shuffle option then..

  33. alex Says:

    [Comment ID #2526 Will Be Quoted Here]

    no, one terabyte is 1024 gigabytes. this would be 1×10^12.4 terabytes

  34. Leefa Says:

    You could store the whole internet on that thing.

  35. Jason Says:

    [Comment ID #2512 Will Be Quoted Here]

    The sound quality of the CD is substantially lower than the quality at the recording studio (in terms of bit-rate, at least), so I would think we could go better than that!

    – JJ

  36. Tweaker Says:


    A file size of 1′000′000 gigabytes can also be expressed as

    8589934592000000 bits
    1073741824000000 bytes
    1048576000000 kilobytes (abbreviated as KB or Kb*)
    1024000000 megabytes (abbreviated as M or MB)
    1′000′000 gigabytes (abbreviated as G or GB)
    976.562500 terabytes
    0.9536743 petabytes
    0.00093132 exabytes

    so just to set the record straight.

  37. 0=off Says:

    you know what i find amazing. if someone could actually do this then virtually evrything can be made out of potential data. you could easily build a completly virtual galaxy. its the matrix brought to life. and also how ridiculously expensive is this stuff???

  38. Dr. MZ Says:

    well, i read on the official site that Xad gave us that this technology could also be applied to RAM memory, which would mean that RAM could store all running programs in i’ ts memory, even if you shut down the computer. i would also mean that we could get around millions of RAM memory in just one computer… now just get motherboards who can support such a massive amount of RAM memory:P

    Greetzzz Maikel Zondag
    someone who can’t wait

  39. Kevin Says:

    storing songs in lossless formats is not as rewardable as it seems. Our ears cannot physically tell the difference between 128 kbs and higher bit rates. We max out at 128, therefor higher bit rates really is awaste of space.

  40. Xad Says:

    [Comment ID #2644 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Humans have a listening range of around 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Listening is not measured in the same measurements you measure MP3 quality at lol.

    As for MP3s at 128kbs – the quality is very different to higher bitrate MP3s – i’m no sound buff, but i listen to enough audio to know this. 192 and above is my preference. It depends on your audio equipment, if you have bad equipment, you aren’t really going to benefit from high quality audio. Sometimes when the volume is turned up really loud audio quality differences can be heard very easily.

    And another thing, for those people who like lossless audio (as in CD rips) – you don’t have to create incredibly large MP3’s, you can just use the .flac format which is a lossless audio format. Audio usually ends up around 30mb for this format.

  41. Xad Says:

    [Comment ID #2594 Will Be Quoted Here]
    I’ve read up a little more on Stanley Meyer and it sounds like it was all a hoax which he carried out to get money from investors. Apparently he failed to prove that it works in a courtcase after which he was forced to pay all the investors money back.

  42. Steven Says:

    [Comment ID #2659 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Cheers Xad.

    I skimmed the pages when i first came apon it a week or so ago. I was planning on going back to read it in full when I had time, sounded interesting aswell :(

    wiki, u gotta love it.!

  43. tighe_9 Says:

    [Comment ID #2526 Will Be Quoted Here]
    Not necessary. That kind of tech probably is possible due to having a multi-dimensional layout. There is already a technique for writing data in several layers to the platters for current gen drives.

  44. grey eminence Says:

    Drexel, Harvard, Penn have only proven the standard 3 to 5 nm cell
    size known by everyone in ferroelctrics can go further to 1 nm.

    As far as their design for use they have not solved the destructive
    readout problem, pinning, or fatigue.

    For a real application go to

  45. Olly Says:

    I have to say one thing, a Terabyte is only 1024GB, so this hard drive is thousands of Terabytes!!

  46. AMCDeathKnight Says:

    God I dont know if I cant wait for this to happen lol, I want it NOW!

  47. Wilgar Says:

    Can you imagine how long it will take to De-Frag a drive this big?
    hhmmm…is bigger “always” better?

  48. Matt Says:

    I dont see what all the fuss is about….to be exact thier talkin 12.2 Petabytes which in my opinion is a big deal. working in a field where i see 100 gb hd’s swaped every 30 mins because it’s full of data, i know that smaller sized hd’s will always be used due to the chances of information being lost, But this open’s a lot of doors for other possibilities….

  49. BOB@LHS Says:

    allright this seems like its too much storage, imagine the time it would take to retrieve something, take a warehouse thats about 60,000 square feet you go in to ask for something and it takes 30 min to find it and mabey an hour to get it, so you take that to the a computer with 60 gb it takes about a second mabey 2 seconds to retrieve something and you multiply it by millions?? it seems like it would take quite along time to get certain things like trying to find one thing in a huge warehouse???

  50. Red Swish Says:

    What several people said before about 1GB lossless files – and about how long it would take to transfer the data across to you’re ‘trendy ipod’!

    Technology always seems to advance so new creations compliment others.
    As Harddrives get bigger, new, faster methods of transferring data are introduced – eg SATA or USB2 over older, slower technologies.

    so by the time this crazily large hard drive enter the commercial market – mp3’s may have increased to 100kb, computers may be running 20GB RAM, USB 8.0! may have been created.

    But what ever new technology is released that relies on other technologies – they will increase with it. That’s is what the technological evolution is on about.

    vinyl > tape cassette > CD > VHS > DVD > HD > RAM?

    Don’t forget there is a buzz about the possible increase of using RAM as a solid-state memory storage replacing hard drives. This would decrease file transfer speeds greatly and would just generally be cool.


  51. Robert Says:

    I think this type of technology should be a requirement. We, as Americans and computer users, want everything to be bigger. Why shoulds computers be any different?

  52. Andrew Chilton Says:

    Wow, that really is amazing. I guess it’s a case of waiting to see if the research and prototypes make it through to production…fingers crossed.

  53. chad Says:

    [Comment ID #2533 Will Be Quoted Here]

    further proof this wont see the light of day within our lifetimes. if they give us petabyte hard drives then how are they going to sell us 1tb hard drives? 10tb, 10tb, 100 tb etc….

  54. gadgetbase Says:

    That is crazy. You would have to do a google search on your computer to actually find anything. Stuff like this makes me realize how much smarter some people are than me.

  55. Mo Says:

    This is quite something, a million gig hard drive. wow. but then again when the 500mb hard drive came out, it was the same response, wow. i say technology will never stop this “wowing”, so i say, so what if they can make a million gig hard drive, it’s gonna be made anyways ;)

  56. Jack Says:

    To those of you that want a yottabyte HD…

    Ha ha ha ha. You are stupid. I’m not going to even be nice and say “I think you are stupid.” Because that isn’t the truth. There is no “thinking” to it.
    You ARE stupid.

    Fact :
    There is less than even 1 YB of information in the ENTIRE WORLD.
    The estimated amount of information is 161 exabytes as of last year and 988 exabytes around 2010. Which is still a ways off from a “YB HD” (exabyte is second before yottabyte, zetabyte is before yottabyte).

    And do you REALLY think you’d need a Hard Drive that could hold more information than what even exists. Trust me,I think a 4 TB Hard Drive is more than enough (= to 4000 GB). How many porn images and games do you “l337 sp34k1ng 1d107s” need anyway,hmm?

    If you want a 1 Yottabyte Hard Drive just by half a trillion 2 TB Hard Drives at about $2000.00 dollars each.I’m sure you all make enough money to pay that.Heh heh heh.(I may not have done math correctly. I may have left out a byte or 2 or 1,000,000,000. (Very sorry to anyone that may be a Professional Computer Programmer, I highly respect you.)

    And besides,I highly doubt that a 1 million GB Hard Drive will even be available to the public. It is likely that this will only be available to the government as Hard Drives for their “Master Computers” which need huge capacities to store important information (i.e.-bank records, criminal profiles, forensics, hospital records, Social Security numbers, etc.) and even it does reach the filthy, grimy hands of the “not-so-knowledgeable” consumer,it will likely top 1 million American dollars,not something your average iPod enthusiast, gaming fanatic, or l337 sp34k3r could afford……
    ……or in layman’s terms : It’s too much space.
    PS. Let us thank all the Computer Programmers, Software Engineers, and
    CPU Hardware Technicians for making technology the magnificent wonder that it is today. My respect goes out to all of you…

    Let us take a moment to remember DOS………..let it rest in (small remnants of undeleted binary code on the Hard Drive) pieces, as well as the programs that “fell” before and after its creation.

  57. Jack Says:

    Oh,and that post was not directed at you Mo or anyone in particular,just the people that want larger capacity Hard Drives so they can “hold more music on their iPod and store more porn on it.”

  58. Jack Says:

    Sorry for posting a third time,but to those of you that think that we should have a 1 Terabyte Hard Drive before we have this…here is some news.

    1 TB Hard Drives already exist for public purchase.
    2 TB Hard Drives already exist for public purchase.
    3 TB Hard Drives already exist for public purchase.
    4 TB Hard Drives already exist for public purchase.

    TB capacity Hard Drives started showing up early in the new millennium within the Alienware brand desktops.

  59. Christof S. Says:

    [Comment ID #2821 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Maybe they should make it not needed to defrag, or any other things that would be a disadvantage?

  60. 7 OF 9 Says:

    [Comment ID #2519 Will Be Quoted Here]

    teleportation will not be possiable for many centuries to come say’s scientist of today,the size of a harddrive,is just one of the many problems we face,i do agree it would be cool

  61. DCA Says:

    Back in the 50s, hard drives used to be the size of a washer but now they’re the size of a book. If these scientists tried to make hard drives with a million Gigs, they’re probably going to have to resort to the old washer-size hard drive (which was able to carry only 5 megabytes of storage). But the way technology is going these days, It’ll probably take 5 to 10 more years before they actually make a hard drive with this capacity and maybe the same size.

  62. Jason Says:

    [Comment ID #2553 Will Be Quoted Here]

    You clearly aren’t very good at maths are you.

  63. Todd Says:

    This size of HD might seem to be an incredible amount of space considering Today’s files and programs, but as somebody else said when these HDs come along bigger and bigger files will come along, so when they get bigger for a program thats comparable to today’s size it may not be that excessive amount of space.
    (I hope that makes sense)

  64. BaggyDave Says:

    At least Microsoft will now have space to fit it’s new Operating system on

  65. BoomBox-Creations Says:

    this is good!!

    i want one, but wait until they find out a way to put this info into a Cubic MM (yes i said milli meters) then all the possibilities of the greatest quality in the world on any system ever built!!

    we could store more on micro SD’s and memory sticks, which means cameras will have more quality (like 100mp) which means bigger photos and alot more life-like detail!!

    but when they make a hard drive of these (like 10×10 cubic centimeters) im getting one as soon as it comes out!!

    and ill be able to fill it up within a year!!

    and microsoft might not have so many bugs!! (hopefully)

3 Trackbacks For This Post

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    [...] Fancy a Million-Gigabtye Hard Drive? Researchers have finally found a way to create storage devices that are capable of storing millions of gigabytes of data. With the use of ferroelectric, the researchers from Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania are able to squeeze 12.8 million gigabytes of information into a cubic centimeter. Very amazing indeed. [...]

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