IEEE Communications Magazine

Capacity-Approaching Codes: Can They Be Applied to the Magnetic Recording Channel?

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Digital signal processing and coding are increasingly being recognized as a cost-efficient approach in achieving substantial areal density gains while preserving the high reliability of disk drives, although historically advances in head and media technologies have been the main driving force behind areal density growth. The recent advances in capacity-approaching codes hold the promise to push the areal density to the ultimate limit. In this article the various configurations regarding the interplay between soft detection and soft decoding through an iterative process, as it applies to the magnetic recording channel, are presented. In particular, the state of the art in turbo and turbo-like coding, including LDPC coding, is reviewed, and the serial concatenation of these coding schemes with inner generalized PR channels in a turbo equalization structure is described. Finally, an attempt is made to assess the performance and limitations of these AWGN channel-capacity-approaching codes when applied to the magnetic recording channel.