Oct 22, 2001

U.S. Government Awards Seagate, with Industry and Academic Leaders, Grant for Research into Breakthrough Storage Technology

SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif. - Seagate today announced that the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded a research grant for a joint venture between Seagate, the National Storage Industry Consortium (NSIC), Advanced Research Corp., Carnegie Mellon University, MEMS Optical Inc., the University of Arizona, and Seagate subcontractor Euxine Technologies. The award was given to the project partners to work together on a promising new data storage technology known as Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR). HAMR is expected to enable dramatic increases in data storage performance, capacity, and reliability that could someday put the world's digital information into a shirt pocket. Seagate will take the lead role in research and provide technical management, while NSIC will provide administrative and financial management.

When implemented, HAMR technology is expected to enable the magnetic data storage industry to extend its technological advancement for a decade or more beyond what could otherwise be anticipated, leading to new and improved storage systems for virtually all sectors of the economy.

NIST, through the U.S. Department of Commerce's Advanced Technology Program (ATP), provides matching funds for the joint venture project that in total is worth more than $21 million over a five-year period.

Working towards the implementation of HAMR technology couldn't have begun at a better time. Based on a study by the University of California-Berkeley through the School of Information Management and Systems, the world's production of new storage this year is expected to be more than 4 million terabytes or the equivalent of storing all of the information found within 65 stacks of books that are each 238,900 miles high, the average distance from the Earth to the Moon. The growth rate for new information is expected to continue at a rate of 55 percent each year, with the vast majority of the world's data being stored onto hard disc drives. Although the amount of information that can be stored onto a typical 3.5-inch disc drive has been increasing rapidly, keeping up with overall storage demands continues to be a challenge.

Supporting the high growth rates are the continued expansion of networks within businesses, the proliferation of the Internet into every business function and home computer, expansion within the entertainment industry, as well as new data storage products emerging within the consumer electronics industry.

"Although today's disc drives can store a tremendous amount of information, our world increasingly relies on the storage, exchange, and communication of information. The result is that the need to deliver new advancements in storage technology such as HAMR has never been clearer," said Dr. Robert M. White, university professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the 18-year-old Data Storage Systems Center at Carnegie Mellon University. "HAMR technology will allow us to make significant advances in capacities through increasing overall data storage densities by a factor of 100 or more."

HAMR technology will significantly extend the capacity of modern magnetic disc drives that use magnetic heads to read and write digital data onto spinning platters. If the storage density (number of data bits stored on a given disk size) continues its phenomenal growth rate, within the next five-to-ten years the data bits will become so small that they may become thermally unstable due to a phenomenon known as superparamagnetism. The solution is to use a more stable medium; however today's magnetic heads are unable to write data on such media. HAMR solves this problem by heating the medium with a laser-generated beam at the precise spot where data bits are being recorded. When heated, the medium becomes easier to write, and the rapid subsequent cooling stabilizes the written data. The result of this heat-assisted recording is a dramatic increase in the recorded density that can be achieved.

"HAMR will enable us to use denser media that can store more information onto ever smaller and more tightly-spaced bits while also maintaining thermal stability," said Dr. Mark Kryder, senior vice president, Seagate Research. "Although superparamagnetism is commonly thought of as a media problem, we have materials that could in principle store information at densities hundreds of times higher than we have today, but we cannot write on that material with conventional recording heads. HAMR will make it possible to write the data reliably and thus circumvent the so-called superparamagnetic limit."

"The U.S. Department of Commerce's Advanced Technology Program award underscores its commitment to helping advance storage technology," said Dr. Paul D. Frank, executive director of the National Storage Industry Consortium. "The companies and universities that are involved with the HAMR program are world class and we look forward to working together on this exciting breakthrough technology."

About the NIST Advanced Technology Program (ATP)
ATP provides cost-shared funding to industry, non-profits and universities to help advance particularly challenging, high-risk research and development projects that have the potential to spark important, broad-based economic or social benefits for the United States. ATP awards are made on the basis of rigorous competitive review considering scientific and technical merit of each proposal and its potential benefits to the U.S. economy. The program is managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. More on ATP and this year's Awards can be found at www.atp.nist.gov.

About the National Storage Industry Consortium (NSIC)
NSIC membership consists of more than fifty corporations, universities and other organizations with a common interest in the field of digital information storage. Corporate membership includes major U.S. storage product manufacturers, as well as companies from the storage industry infrastructure. NSIC's mission is to enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. information storage industry, a mission that it pursues through the sponsorship, organization and management of joint technology research programs in advanced, pre-competitive data storage technologies. NSIC was incorporated in 1991 and has its headquarters in San Diego, California. More on NSIC can be found by visiting www.nsic.org.

About the Data Storage Systems Center at Carnegie Mellon University
The Data Storage Systems Center (DSSC) is an interdisciplinary research and educational entity within Carnegie Mellon University whose mission is to enhance the competitiveness of the data storage industry by developing new fundamental understanding and producing highly skilled and knowledgeable engineers. The Center has been supported by funding from industrial sponsors as well as government agencies, notably the National Science Foundation, which in 1990 recognized the DSSC as an Engineering Research Center. For more information on the DSSC, visit www.dssc.ece.cmu.edu.

About Seagate
Seagate is the world's leading provider of storage technology for Internet, business and consumer applications. The Company's products include disc drives for the Enterprise, PCs and Consumer Electronics, as well as Storage Area Network (SAN) solutions. Seagate's market leadership is based on delivering award-winning products, customer support and reliability to meet the world's growing demand for information storage. Seagate can be found around the globe and at www.seagate.com.