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Patent Issued for System, Method and Apparatus for Selection of Reserved Area Data Tracks

September 3, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Electronics Newsweekly -- From Alexandria, Virginia, VerticalNews journalists report that a patent by the inventors Unoki, Toshiroh (Kanagawa, JP); Shikama, Takeshi (Kanagawa, JP), filed on July 10, 2012, was published online on August 19, 2014.

The patent's assignee for patent number 8810941 is HGST Netherlands B.V. (Amsterdam, NL).

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates in general to disk drives and, in particular, to a system, method and apparatus for selection of data tracks with high ATI/FTI-Refresh potential as the location of reserved areas to capitalize on low magnetic density and low write frequency of the reserved areas.

"Increased magnetic disk recording density has been accompanied by further narrowing of the track pitch. When data is recorded on a particular data track of a magnetic hard disk drive (HDD), a phenomenon in which magnetic flux that has leaked from the recording head (e.g., a fringe field) affects the data that has been recorded on adjacent data tracks and far tracks. When the recorded data has been updated many times, the data that has been recorded on the adjacent data tracks and far tracks can be corrupted and have errors. Errors that can be recovered from error correction codes (ECC) are called soft read errors. However, readback of these tracks may not be recoverable from the ECC.

"For adjacent tracks, this non-recovery phenomenon is known as adjacent track interference (ATI). For far tracks, this phenomenon is known as far track erasure or far track interference (FTI). Depending on the design of the write head, both ATI/FTI-refresh and FTI effects (ATI/FTI) occur during the write of a particular data track. Manufacturing tolerances for the write head and magnetic media may affect the ATI/FTI impact on the various head-media interfaces in a single HDD.

"The write head is mounted to a rotary actuator such that its movement is arcuate in shape from the inner diameter of the disk to the outer diameter of the disk. Thus, geometry also may alter the impact of ATI/FTI. Since the head moves above the magnetic disk in accordance with the tracks, a skew angle is defined between a tangent of a data track on the disk and the direction of the head.

"As shown in FIG. 1, the skew angle typically is arranged to be zero (0) in the center or middle diameter (MD) of the recordable media on the disk. The skew angle gradually increases toward the outer diameter (OD) as well as the inner diameter (ID). Thus, the maximum skew angle A on a positive side occurs at the outermost periphery of the data region, and the maximum skew angle B on a negative side occurs at the innermost periphery. For ease of reference, the data region of a magnetic disk may be divided into five areas where the outer peripheral side of the magnetic disk is represented by OD, the inner peripheral side by ID, the middle part by MD (skew=0), the region between OD and MD by MDOD (e.g., skew angle C), and the region between ID and MD by MDID (e.g., skew angle D).

"After data writing has been performed a certain number of times on an adjacent data track, ATI/FTI may be prevented by a process of reading and write-back of the data track. This process is referred to as ATI/FTI-Refresh. To determine when an ATI/FTI-Refresh is to be performed, a Risk-Counter may be used to indicate the extent of the ATI/FTI degradation for each data track. The Risk-Counter may be updated in response to the writes of adjacent or far data tracks. When the Risk-Counter of a data track exceeds a Risk-Threshold, the ATI/FTI-Refresh is performed on that data track.

"User data may be written on the disk in data blocks of, for example, 512 bytes or 4 kilobytes. These data blocks employ data encoding techniques and ECC to recover data that, when read back, includes bits in error. The data encoding and ECC have limitations in the number of bit errors that can be corrected by the electronics of the HDD. If there are too many bits in error, not all data bits can be recovered and the data block is considered unrecoverable. Thus, if the ATI/FTI degradation is too far along then the data block in a data track may be unrecoverable. The ATI/FTI-Refresh is intended to alert the HDD electronics before the degradation has progressed too far. When the Risk-Threshold has been exceeded for a data track, that data track is read back, any soft data errors are corrected using the data encoding and ECC, then the corrected user data is written back to the disk at the same track location.

"Because the relevant data is read out of the entire circumference of the data track and rewritten on the data track in an ATI/FTI-Refresh, commands from the host computer to which the HDD is coupled cannot be processed during that period. Consequently, the performance of the HDD is degraded during these periods.

"Certain tracks on a disk may be set aside as a maintenance area or reserved area (RA) to store various parameters of the HDD that are unique to that HDD. When the HDD is powered on, these parameters are read out first before the HDD enters the operation enabled state. Accordingly, since the RA plays a very important role for the HDD, the erasure of data in this data region by ATI/FTI-Refresh must be prevented. Therefore, the RA typically has a lower magnetic recording density than that of a user data region, and the possibility of data erasure due to ATI/FTI is extremely low.

"The RA usually is placed in one location at approximately the center part of the magnetic disk. The RA is often written to very infrequently, and some areas are only written once (though they may be read frequently, especially at HDD power on). Because of the infrequent writing in the RA and the lower magnetic density, the ATI/FTI-Refresh is very infrequent in the RA. Although these designs are workable, continued improvements without HDD performance degradation would be desirable."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "Embodiments of a system, method and apparatus for selection of data tracks for the location of reserved area are disclosed. For example, a method of configuring a HDD may comprise providing a media disk with data tracks comprising a user data region; assessing a location on the media disk with a highest frequency of ATI/FTI-Refresh potential; and configuring the location to be a RA where no user data is written, the RA having parameters that are read out first before the HDD enters an operation enabled state for user interface.

"In other embodiments, a method of configuring a HDD may comprise providing a media disk with data tracks comprising a user data region having variable track pitches from an ID of the media disk to an OD of the media disk; assessing a location on the media disk with a smallest track pitch; and then configuring the location to be a RA where no user data is written, the RA having parameters that are read out first before the HDD enters an operation enabled state for user interface. The RA also may comprise a location on the media disk with a highest frequency of ATI/FTI-Refresh potential.

"An embodiment of a HDD may comprise an enclosure and a media disk rotatably mounted to the enclosure. The media disk may have data tracks for storing data. An actuator may be movably mounted to the enclosure and may have a slider for reading data from and writing data to the data tracks. The data tracks may comprise at least two RAs that are separated from each other by at least a portion of a user data region for writing user data thereto. Each of the RAs may have parameters that are read out first before the HDD enters an operation enabled state for user interface.

"The foregoing and other objects and advantages of these embodiments will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the appended claims and the accompanying drawings."

For additional information on this patent, see: Unoki, Toshiroh; Shikama, Takeshi. System, Method and Apparatus for Selection of Reserved Area Data Tracks. U.S. Patent Number 8810941, filed July 10, 2012, and published online on August 19, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8810941.PN.&OS=PN/8810941RS=PN/8810941

Keywords for this news article include: Electronics, HGST Netherlands B.V.

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Source: Electronics Newsweekly


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