New Disk Tracking Servo Research Proposal

Last month researchers announced a proposal which is being evaluated, which could significantly improve both the data density and performance of hard disk drives based on this technique. It proposes storing the servo tracking bits on a separate layer, allowing a higher data density and improved tracking of the read/write heads, which would improve performance of the drive.

Currently data is recorded on the platters in circular tracks, which require the read/write heads to be positioned precisely while flying just a nanometre above the surface. Tracking bits are spaced around the tracks, in what appear as spokes, which take up space which could be used to record data.

With the current technology, the need to space the tracking bits to avoid using more space than necessary, it means that the tracking can be susceptible to disturbances caused by vibrations or shock. This affects the overall performance that can be achieved with a configuration.

The latest proposal uses a second layer dedicated to the servo tracking data, allowing a continuous monitoring of the read/write head positions, making them less susceptible to vibrations and shock. Not only would this improve the efficiency of the drive, but also allow the entire platter space to be used for storing data.

The viability of this proposal is being evaluated and if used, would be the next steps in the development of hard disk drive technology. This and other research may help to keep hard disk drive technology far enough ahead of SSD capacity and price to help arrest the downward sales of traditional rotating storage devices.

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