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Komag Inc announced that it has successfully completed the development of a proof-of-principle discrete track recording (DTR) patterned magnetic disk. This proprietary technology is expected to facilitate significant advances in disk capacities beyond 160GB per disk for future Longitudinal Magnetic Recording (LMR) or Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) media.

DTR disks are based on patterned substrates that enable a cost effective means to magnetically isolate individual data tracks from each other. This inter-track isolation is projected to result in several significant advantages when compared to extensions of continuous LMR or PMR disks. Disks with Komag's DTR technology provide potential for 2 dB improvement in signal-to-media noise ratio and 4 dB improvement in signal-to-electronic noise ratio. Due to the improved isolation of the area where magnetically recorded data are placed, much higher signal overwrite and signal output can be achieved with a DTR disk than with an equivalent conventional disk with the same data track density. With DTR disks, it is expected that drive manufacturers will be able to use recording heads with relaxed write head tolerances to improve manufacturing efficiency and yield. DTR disks are also expected to show improved head-todisk interface reliability in start-stop as well as continuous operating modes. And finally, DTR disks should allow manufacturers to pre-format the head position servo information on the disk at the time of disk manufacturing.

These advantages are expected to approximately double a disk's capacity compared to the natural extensions of existing technology. Komag is currently prototyping the DTR design in collaboration with its customers; the product development and qualification stages that follow will be aimed at releasing disks to production volumes to intercept the market when media are in the range of 160 to 240GB per disk. The superior data storage capability projected for DTR disks in combination with the pre-formatted servo information should significantly increase the value to the drive manufacturer in the form of reduced total cost of ownership.

"Demonstrating the ability to cost effectively pattern at the track level is a key milestone for the Company and industry. Komag is continually striving to offer our customers best-in-class media and technology ahead of the industry's needs. We believe that our leadership in DTR, which is expected to provide the cost and performance benefits our customers need, will further solidify our position as a leader in the storage arena," said T.H. Tan, Komag's chief executive officer.

To achieve the desired functionality and cost objectives for patterning the DTR supporting substrates, Komag had to develop unique nano-imprint lithography (NIL) compatible masters, tools and associated processes. Especially noteworthy was the demonstration of NIL capability to pattern 100 cm2 size surfaces with 70nm scale minimum features. These processes were optimized for compatibility with advanced versions of currently used aluminumbased disk substrates. This combination should result in the lowest cost possible for future DTR disks.

Komag has issued and pending patents to protect key aspects of its DTR technology. The Company plans to license this intellectual property to other disk manufacturers to facilitate dual vendor sourcing of disks by its customers.

"We are excited about our team's innovations that made these DTR disks possible. Patterned media such as DTR are on everyone's horizon as a means to extend the capacity of magnetic recording disks. These solutions should play an important role in the future of magnetic recording disks and other technologies," said Chris Bajorek, Komag's executive vice president of advanced technology.

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