Stealthy storage startup wants to fly read-write heads closer to disks

Which means higher capacity, according to L2 Drive

Stealthy storage startup L2 Drive's technology could enable higher-capacity disk drives.

The company was founded in January 2016 by CEO Karim Kaddeche and COO John Wang. Kaddeche has no direct disk drive storage industry experience, having been a product management director at the Descartes Systems Group. Before that he spent more than 14 years as CTO at GeoMicro, a GPS software firm. Wang accompanied him in both these businesses.

Storage industry veteran Steve Sicola is a board director for L2 Drive, which he describes as "a Stealth IP Company in the area of storage devices".


L2 Drive website

We know of no other L2 Drive employees nor any funding history.

Kaddeche has a number of filed patents which aim to get a disk's read-write head closer to the magnetic recording layer. If this can be achieved, the head can read smaller magnetic fields, meaning the magnetised bits on the disk's recording media can be smaller. Smaller bits mean more data can be crammed on the disk's surface, increasing its capacity.

Currently disks have a lubricant above the recording medium layer to protect its integrity, which is affected if the read-write head touches the disk's surface. Better control of the head-disk separation distance would allow the lubricant layer to be dispensed with, allowing the head to be closer to the disk and, in turn, enabling smaller bits.

There are three patents of interest we have found:

  • Active control of a read/write head: Number 20170278542 – June 13, 2017. The abstract says a fully active actuator can better position a read-write head closer to a disk's surface than an air suspension system.
  • Active control of a read/write head for reduced head-media spacing: Number 9734864 – January 13, 2017. The abstract says the system replaces the conventional air bearing surface (ABS) design with a fully active suspension to maintain the head flying height within the desired range. The system further allows for each of the magnetic transducer and disk surfaces to be to be devoid of any overcoat or lubricant layers.
  • Apparatus, systems and processes for reducing a hard disk drive's access time and concomitant power optimisation: Number 9721600 – March 2, 2017. The abstract says that rotational latency is reduced in a standard form factor HDD system by replacing, for example, the rotary arm actuator of a conventional HDD with one or more belts and pulleys and one or more read/write heads mounted on, or otherwise associated with the belts. Multiple scaled iterations facilitate energy savings and power optimised systems, without compromise to data access performance.

+Reg Comment

We assume that the only market for L2 Drive's intellectual property, its patents, is among the three disk drive manufacturers – Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital. If one or all of them think its technology is usable then they could try to buy the company or license its IP. ®

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