For now though, 421 gigabits per square inch will do. This happens to be a world record. It was a demo at the IDEMA DISKON show and used perpendicular recording and media created with currently-available production equipment.

Seagate's release boasts: "Seagate expects the capacity ranges to result in solutions ranging in 40GB to 275GB for 1-and 1.8-inch consumer electronics drives, 500GB for 2.5-inch notebook drives, and nearly 2.5TB for 3.5-inch desktop and enterprise class drives. At 2.5TB capacity, a hard drive would be capable of storing 41,650 hours of music, 800,000 digital photographs, 4,000 hours of digital video or 1,250 video games. It might even be large enough to support Microsoft's Windows Vista - but we mustn't get too hopeful.

Seagate anticipates that solutions at these density levels could begin to emerge in 2009."

And that's not all. At the keynote where the demo was revealed Seagate presenter Dr. Mark Kryder mentioned future technologies designed to extend magnetic recording beyond perpendicular including Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) and bit patterned media techniques. Seagate researchers have estimated capacities to reach or exceed 50 terabits per square inch using these technologies.

This is straightforward gee-whiz stuff. Eat your heart out flash memory solid state drive makers; you haven't a prayer of catching up, a point that Seagate CEO Bill Watkins is keen to emphasize: "Breakthroughs in areal density are enabling the digital revolution and clearly indicate that hard drives can sustain their advantage to meet the world’s insatiable demand for storage across a wide range of market segments.”

The release then increases the Seagate hype level just a little further: "no other company is better positioned to serve the storage needs of the future than Seagate."