-- Vignette V6 Thu Jul 03 20:00:16 2008 --> Seagate Moves Ahead On HAMR Technology - Technology News by ExtremeTech
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Seagate Moves Ahead On HAMR Technology

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Seagate Technology said it had successfully demonstrated the principles behind HAMR, the name for the technology that could form the basis of Seagate's next-generation hard drives.

The successful demonstration doesn't mean that the technology is right around the corner. Mark Kryder, senior vice-president of research for Seagate, said the technology roadmap calls for HAMR to be introduced in about five or six years.

If the technology lives up to its promises, however, then HAMR could blow away the "superparamagnetic limit" by about a factor of 100, according to Seagate. The company hopes to read and write 50 terabits (6.25 terabytes) of data in a square inch using low-cost manufacturing techniques. Today, multi-terabyte arrays house corporate databases.

The superparamagnetic limit was once thought to be a point beyond which data could not be written reliably, due to bits "flipping" their magnetic polarity and turning data into meaningless noise. Over time, however, the limit has been pushed out to somewhere beyond 100 gigabits per square inch.

HAMR is based upon the principle of optically-assisted or "near-field" recording, as this ExtremeTech primer on the HAMR technology notes. The technology, which uses lasers to heat the recording medium, was pioneered by the defunct TeraStor Corp. and Quinta, which was acquired by Seagate.

Seagate's demonstration successfully showed that near-field recording techniques could record where purely magnetic disks could not. The demonstration applied a magnetic write head with a specific magnetic field to a spinning disk platter of a certain coercivity. Although the magnetic head failed to write to the media, the optically-assisted head did. Seagate also discovered that the pulse width was narrower when using HAMR technology than using conventional magnetic recording, proving the signal did not degrade by shifting to the new technology, Kryder said.

"We demonstrated that the physics work," Kryder said.

This demonstration took place during the grand opening celebration of Seagate's new 200,000 square foot research center in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Now, Seagate's next step is to try and figure out a way to make the "spot" of light small enough that only the targeted area heats up, Kryder said.

Fujitsu and IBM (before the company decided to merge its hard drive business with Hitachi Ltd.) had promoted "pixie dust" antiferromagnetic recording to push the superparamagnetic limit further out. However, Kryder said that drive makers will have to shift from the current longitudinal method of recording—where magnetic poles lie flat across the surface of the disk—to perpendicular recording, where the poles are aligned along the vertical axis.

"They have no hope of getting pixie dust to a terabit," Kryder said.

Correction: A previous version of the story incorrectly included a mention of the test disk's "corrosivity".



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