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Matters Come To A Head

Inside Western Digital: How Tomorrow's Storage Gets Made
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Matters Come To A Head

Those of us familiar with LPs might naturally associate the head of a hard drive with the needle of a record player. I suppose I went into the WD Magnetic Head Facility in Fremont expecting something vaguely simple, like a needle, some sort of magnetic device that conducted pulses to and from the media and rest of the drive. I had no idea that the magnetic read/write head is every bit as complex and critical as the media itself. Once again, I drastically underestimated the resources and processes needed to make this tiny, conceptually simple object. Or, as my lead engineer host said when I showed my ignorance that building a read head involved sputtering, “Wow, I guess this is going to require a much more basic explanation than I’d thought.” Nice.

These images, including the great shot of a head crash, were borrowed from Wikimedia Commons. I’ll return them when we’re done.

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