A key component of the track-following system is the track-follow actuator. IBM’s tape drives use voice coil actuators to position the head relative to the tape. Electrical connectivity is provided to the head by means of flex cables that route signals to and from the drive electronics for reading and writing data.
In order to increase the data rate in future tape systems, the number of parallel channels will have to be increased, resulting in larger and stiffer flex cables. Increased mass and stiffness of the flex cables may degrade the performance of the track-follow actuator. To minimize such effects, we use finite element modeling (FEM) to optimize the design of the head, cable and actuator assembly. Higher-order resonances in the actuator can limit the bandwidth and track-following performance of the actuator. FEM modeling is used to identify the origin of such resonances and test strategies to minimize their effects.
An example of an FEM simulation of IBM’s LTO3 half-high actuator is shown in Figure 1. In addition to optimizing existing actuators, we are also exploring novel actuator concepts.