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Technology Pioneered in INSIC Research Program Achieves
1 Terabit per Square Inch Storage Density

On March 19, 2012, Seagate Technology announced that it had become “the first hard drive maker to achieve the milestone storage density of 1 terabit (1 trillion bits) per square inch” (see Seagate’s Press Release) in a technology demonstration that utilized Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR), a technology that was pioneered in the INSIC-sponsored HAMR ATP Program.

The INSIC HAMR Program, which was funded in part under the Department of Commerce’s Advanced Technology Program (see the ATP Project Brief), was administered by INSIC, with Seagate acting as the lead industrial company partner, and included MEMS Optical, Inc., Advanced Research Corporation, the University of Arizona, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Minnesota as participants in the research program.  The HAMR Program officially began in November 2001 and ran through October 2006.

The INSIC HAMR Program had its genesis in a Workshop on 1 Terabit per Square Inch (1 Tbpsi) Recording that was organized by INSIC (then still known as NSIC) in August 2000 as part of its EHDR (Extremely High Density Recording) Program for advanced research in hard disk drive recording technology, and which was hosted by IBM at its Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California.  The objective of the Workshop was to determine which approaches the EHDR Research Program would pursue towards the goal of developing the underlying science and technology that would allow the demonstration of 1 Tbpsi recording.  The result of the Workshop was that the EHDR sponsors decided to concentrate primarily on research in Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) and to fund a few seed projects in Bit-Patterned Magnetic Recording (BPMR), but not to fund work in HAMR technology (which was then known as “hybrid recording,” since it included aspects of both magnetic and optical recording technologies).

Subsequently, INSIC canvassed its member companies and research universities and determined that Seagate was interested in pursuing a separate research program in hybrid recording, as were the University of Arizona and Carnegie Mellon University.  In an effort led by INSIC’s Barry Schechtman, the other participants were recruited and a proposal was formulated and submitted to the 2001 ATP Competition for funding, which proved successful.  In the process of preparing the proposal, INSIC asked for suggestions for naming the new program and “Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording” and its acronym HAMR, submitted by Bob Rottmayer, were born.  In its 5 years, the INSIC HAMR Program laid the foundation for future hard drive products based on the technology, which is attested to by the fact that, to date, a total of nearly 40 US Patents have resulted from the HAMR Program.

INSIC is proud of its role in the creation of HAMR technology and wishes to particularly thank:  Terry McDaniel and Glenn Sincerbox for their early support for the concept; Mark Kryder for his executive leadership and steadfast support for the HAMR Program; Ed Skalko and Ed Gage for their service as Technical Coordinators of the program; and Barry Schechtman, INSIC’s Executive Director Emeritus, not only for his successful efforts in organizing the HAMR ATP Proposal but also for his subsequent service as INSIC’s Lead Project Administrator for the duration of the effort.

For more on the future of HAMR and Seagate’s plans for the technology, see a recent article in MIT’s Technology Review.



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