£8.1m researcher centre to tackle world's data storage needs

A training centre has received millions in funding to address data capacity problem and bring innovative storage service to market.

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A training centre has received millions of pounds in funding to address data capacity problems and help bring innovative laser storage technologies to market.

The University of Glasgow, Queen’s University of Belfast and twelve industry partners will train an initial 50 PhD students with the aim of developing cutting-edge storage production techniques, such as the use of integrated photonics.

The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) will receive funding worth £8.1 million, including £3 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The remainder will come from the two institutions involved and industry partners, including the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland.

The investment is aimed at supporting the increased demand for storage following the growth in popularity of cloud computing, where large volumes of data are stored remotely. To address this, and allow storage density to increase at the rate is has over the past 10 years, new production methods such as heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) could be required.

The CDT will also address skills challenges in production processes such as nanofabrication and photonic integration. Photonic integration involves the combining many different types of optical components on a common platform, including lasers, modulators, detectors, multiplexers and optical amplifiers.

“The biggest growth sector is in what is called ‘cloud’ computing, where data is stored remotely,” said Professor John Marsh, head of the School of Engineering at the University of Glasgow. “Already, almost all of e-commerce and the internet rely entirely on data farms filled with large numbers of ‘server’ computers and these use HDDs to store commercial and personal information – everything from bank details to social media. Cloud computing is increasing this need for storage.”

The CDT course will enable students to carry out research in both Glasgow and Belfast, as well as spending time with industry partners, and completing a three-week study period at The Innovation Academy in Dublin.

One of the CDT's partners includes storage company Seagate, whose chairman and CEO is leaving Microsoft's board of directors after a brief but influential stint, Computerworlduk reported.

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