Hitachi and its Global Storage Technologies (GST) spinoff announced Monday that they have developed the world's smallest read-head technology for hard-disk drives, breaking ground for 4-Tbyte (TB) desktop hard drives and 1-TB notebook hard drives. Researchers at Hitachi have reduced existing recording heads to the 30- to 50-nm range. The heads, which use giant magnetoresistive technology (GMR), are expected to be employed in products in 2009, reaching full potential by 2011. "Hitachi continues to invest in deep research for the advancement of hard-disk drives as we believe there is no other technology capable of providing the hard drive's high-capacity, low-cost value for the foreseeable future," said Hiroaki Odawara, a research director for Hitachi. "It allows Hitachi to fuel the growth of the 'Terabyte Era' of storage, which we started, and gives consumers virtually limitless ability for storing their digital content." Hitachi believes the GMR heads will enable hard-disk drive recording densities of 500 gigabits per square inch to one terabit per square inch — quadrupling today's highest densities. Hitachi GST currently ships products in the 200 Gigabits per square inch range. The 1988 discovery of the GMR effect was recognized last week with a Nobel Prize for physics. Nearly two decades after its discovery, the effects of GMR technology are felt more strongly than ever with Hitachi's CPP-GMR head. Today, areal density growth has slowed, and many companies are turning to alternatives like flash solid-state storage. Still, advances in recording head technology are enabling hard-disk drive capacity to double every two years.