Like Tony Blair, the hard drive industry is looking at a third way.
To more densely record data on hard drives, that is. Disk track recording involves storing data in tracks laid down in a precise pattern on a platter, according to an article by Rick Merritt of EE Times. It's similar to patterned media hard drives, but could get to market earlier. Disk track recording could show up in drives in two years or so. Patterned media hard drives may not show up until 2012 or later.
"It's probably not a factor of two better than today's approach, but just how much better it is is still being debated, John Best, chief technologist with Hitachi Global Storage Technologies told EE Times. "The whole method is still controversial even within our company."
Hitachi and Seagate, meanwhile, are fighting over patterned media and heat assisted recording. Hitachi wants the industry to adopt patterned media first, which involves creating a pattern of tiny bits on platters. Seagate likes heat assisted, which involves heating a bit, storing data on it, and then letting it cool.
Eventually, both technologies will be part of hard drives, but some companies will gain an edge if their particular idea goes first.