HDD heads have various interaction mechanisms with thermal asperities (TAs), and protection mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure the head-disk interaction (HDI) resulting from them is eliminated or minimized to the highest extent possible. It is straightforward to not allow the head sit-on-track on cylinders that have such TAs on them, and the same principle can be extended to so-called high TAs (HTAs), whose height is more than the fly height of the head, so heads do not inadvertently interact with the TA even when motion is triggered on another head, since the entire head stack moves together.

Similar TA interactions also occur when the head seeks across the tracks. Typical short seeks have thermal fly-height control (TFC) turned on while it is turned on during long seeks, which is greater than a few hundred tracks. Heads can also interact with TAs during retract and arrival of the head during such long seeks. Finally, background media scan (BGMS), which is an industry standard, when the drive enters an idle state. Interaction with HTAs can also occur when the drive enters such a state.

Typical seek avoidance attempts to eliminate TA interaction during seeking, however it is not straightforward to determine which of the seek mechanism: TFC On during short seeks, retract/arrival during long seeks, HTA interaction during long seeks with TFC off, or idle TA interaction causes the greatest HDI. Through theoretical analysis and experimental corroboration, this paper intends to rank the various modes of TA interaction, so by developing features for eliminating or minimizing them in that order could help bring the maximum benefit for achieving minimum lifetime reduction of the head due to such interaction.

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