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Researcher Paves Alternate Path For Hard Drives


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Carnegie Mellon University Professor Jimmy Jian-Gang Zhu

The MAMR approach to increasing hard disk density "represents the least disruptive approach with substantial gain of storage capacity," says Carnegie Mellon University Professor Jimmy Jian-Gang Zhu.

Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University professor Jimmy Jian-Gang Zhu is developing a prototype hard disk technology based on his microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) technique, which could potentially allow three terabits (Tbits) of data to be stored on a square inch of a spinning disk. Meanwhile, Seagate Technology is developing heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology, which uses a laser light on each drive head to heat a portion of the disk just before data is written to it, and Hitachi Global Storage Technologies is working on a way to use patterns to track bit location on media.

One analyst says the industry may have to choose one of the competing technologies within the next year. Either patterned media or HAMR could create densities of 1 to 10 Tbits per square inch, and both have similar costs based on available estimates. However, Zhu believes his approach could cost less than either technology and provide similar advancements. His lab is fabricating a prototype device and plans to test its performance.

In MAMR, a drive head emits a microwave field that excites the electrons in the media, building up energy that makes it easier to write data. MAMR uses a localized high frequency AC magnet field generated by a magnetic thin film stack integrated with existing recording heads. Zhu says the stack contains only a few more magnetic layers than modern recording heads. He says that MAMR "represents the least disruptive approach with substantial gain of storage capacity."

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