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Artwork: Chip Taylor
The Day That Gigabytes Become Passé
In 2007 you'll be able to buy 1-terabyte desktop hard drives, says Bill Healy of Hitachi. Drives will grow to 2 terabytes by the end of 2009, and to an immense 8 terabytes by the end of 2013.

Memory That Doesn't Forget
Your existing PC memory gets amnesia when the system power goes off, but NRAM (nanotube nonvolatile RAM) remembers everything, and is as fast as modern memory. With NRAM, your PC could turn on and off immediately, dispensing with all of its tedious booting up and shutting down.

The Fastest DVD Drive Possible
We once thought that DVD writers would max out at 16X write speed, but Lite-On will be offering a 20X drive later this year. That's as far as speeds are likely to go--you won't see any additional leaps in DVD write speed. And don't expect to find 20X media anytime soon, as 20X isn't part of the DVD spec.

Solid-State Drives
Though they've been around for a bit, fast SSD drives that use cheap PC memory instead of magnetic media are making a comeback. The Q1-SSD, Samsung's ultramobile PC handheld, now uses one, and we expect to see other devices using them before the end of 2006.

External Drives With No Performance Hit
The new external SATA (eSATA) standard is a great way to connect devices such as external hard drives--such drive models are as fast as their internal cousins, but can be plugged in and removed without a PC reboot. More devices will use eSATA as more PCs come equipped with this new connection.

200GB Blu-ray Discs
Although the current specification for Blu-ray allows for a maximum capacity of 50GB (with two layers), TDK has already demonstrated a prototype Blu-ray disc that uses six layers to hold 200GB of data.

Hybrid Hard Drives
Some new drives combine several megabytes of memory with traditional hard-drive technology, speeding up access to frequently used data and saving battery power. The first models are out now, but models with faster and larger memory caches are on the way.

Faster, Longer-Lasting Flash Memory
The next generation of flash is coming. It's called phase-change random access memory, and Samsung hopes it will address several drawbacks associated with flash. Unlike flash memory, PRAM doesn't have to be erased before new data is written to it, which Samsung claims helps make it up to 30 times faster than conventional flash memory. It should also last ten times longer. Samsung expects to begin producing the first 512-megabit PRAM modules in 2008.

Data in Three Dimensions
InPhase Technologies' holographic storage technology uses a pair of lasers to create three-dimensional interference patterns that can represent up to a million bits at once. InPhase demonstrated its Tapestry 300-R 300GB drive this year. Toshiba has invested in a competing firm called Optoware that is developing a 1.6-terabyte holographic disc format.

50-Terabyte DVDs
Researchers at Harvard Medical School have produced a prototype of a light-sensitive protein coating that they believe will eventually store up to 50 terabytes on a DVD-size disc. NEC, which has been codeveloping the technology, hopes to have a USB thumb-drive version a year from now, and a DVD-size disc a year after that.

Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording
Experimental technologies such as heat-assisted recording and patterned magnetic media will boost the amount of data that devices can hold. But don't hold your breath, as it will take several years for these technologies to move from the lab to the marketplace.

Special Report: Tomorrow's Technology

The Future of Your PC The Future of Robots
The Future of Cell Phones The Future of Privacy
The Future of the Web The Future of Nanotech
The Future of OSs The Future of You
The Future of Fun 100 Fearless Forecasts
Incredible Tech: Lies Ahead A Look Back
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