Hard disk drives (HDDs) are becoming more widely used than ever before, due to the explosive growth in the introduction of portable equipment such as laptop computers, portable media players (PMPs), and handsets. As more and more devices incorporate HDDs, the need has become more pressing to protect them from shocks produced by severe impacts when a product that contains one is dropped accidentally. To increase the ability of HDDs to survive such events, their impact resistance must be enhanced.

This article explores the use of accelerometers to detect a drop and then generate a signal that causes an HDD head to be recalled to a safe zone. If this can occur before the product hits the floor or other stationary surface, a collision between head and platter will be prevented. This approach was first used commercially in a notebook PC released by IBM in October 2003.

Reproduced with the permission of Analog Devices, Inc.