Maxtor shows low-cost perpendicular recording process

Maxtor has demonstrated a way to double hard disk recording density without adding significantly to the manufacturing cost.

The system, which uses Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR), can achieve areal densities equivalent to 175GB per platter compared with the current standard of 80GB per platter produced by Longitudinal Magnetic Recording (LMR).

The PMR manufacturing process, which uses the same equipment as the LMR process, has been demonstrated by Maxtor's wholly-owned subsidiary MMC Technology.

The difference between LMR and PMR can be thought of as recording each data bit on a matchstick lying down (LMR) or standing on end (PMR). The more compact and efficient PMR process requires a recording medium with smaller grains of material, a special soft underlay (SUL) layer and electronics capable of producing a better signal-to-noise ratio. These advances can be mass-produced using existing equipment, Maxtor said, with just an incremental cost for making media with a suitable SUL.

Maxtor did not say when production drives incorporating PMR would be released.

The disk drive industry continues to grapple with expanding customer demand for storage at lower cost.

The amount of disk storage sold would increase by 50 per cent per year over the next three years, but industry revenue would only grow by 0.8 per cent per year as the price per gigabyte would drop from $US40 in 2002 to $US8 in 2006, chairman and chief executive officer of Western Digital, according to Matt Massengill, said.

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