Acoustic Assisted Magnetic Recording is invented

Read an article today about Acoustic Assisted Magnetic Recording (See Oregon State University article Researchers invent “acoustic-assisted magnetic recording”).

Just like heat assisted magnetic recording (HAMR, see our Disk density hits new record… post) which uses laser beams, acoustic assisted magnetic recording (AAMR) uses ultrasound to heat up a spot on media to help it be magnetized.

Why heat up media?

The problems with the extremely dense storage coming out of the labs these days is that the bits are becoming so small that’s it’s increasingly hard to insure that bits close by aren’t being disturbed when a bit is modified. This has led to an interest in shingled writes which we discussed in Sequential only disks and Shingled magnetic recorded disks posts.

But another possibility is to add heat to the process to isolate a bit on magnetic media. In this way a heated bit will be changed while its cooler neighbors are left alone.

I was at the dental hygenist the other day and she was using a new probe which used ultrasound to break up the plaque. In this case, it was also spewing water to cool the tip.  In any event, it appears as if ultrasound can be used to heat up, break stuff and image soft tissue, pretty versatile technology.

Is AAMR better than HAMR?

The nice thing about AAMR is that it can potentially be made with all solid state electronics and as such, wouldn’t require any optical componentry like HAMR.   So in the race against HAMR this could be a crucial edge and thus, could potentially be much easier to fabricate for use in tomorrows disk drives.

I foresee some possible problems with the technology, such as what is size of the heated spot and will the ultrasound emitter need any cooling (like the dental probe).

But it all seems like a reasonable and  logical extension of HAMR technologies being developed in labs today. Also, AAMR could quite probably could make use of the same thermally activated media developed for HAMR applications. Not having to come up with a new media formulation should help it get out of the lab even quicker. That is, if its other problems can be worked out.

In the post on HAMR, it had achieved a Tb/sqin in the lab, as the new media density high watermark.  As far as I could tell from the information published on AAMR, there were no new density records being discussed. However, if AAMR is able to achieve anything close to HAMR densities, we are in for larger capacity disk drives for another decade or so.


Photo Credit: AAMR head assembly by Oregon State University