# Thread: MFM and Double Density

1. Thank you all for your brilliant comments:

ziloo

2. Originally Posted by ziloo
Alrighty then....let me rephrase my statement; comparing two modes of
modulation, namely FM and MFM, we can say that on the same media
the shortest safe distance between two pulses (flux-transitions) is that
of an FM........Yes....NO...?

ziloo
Reread my post. They get more data by removing the unneeded clock pulses on MFM. The data bits are sufficient to keep the reading PLL locked on phase. There is no increases in the density of transition on the disk. MFM just doesn't waste space for clock pulses that are not needed.
Clocks are only added when there are empty strips with no data transitions.
FM puts a clock pulse in for every data, even when the data doesn't change.
Dwight

3. I should add this:

There are more ways than simple FM or MFM to getting more bang for the buck, while still remaining within the limits of bandwidth and the need to preserve synchronization. One such way is "Group Code Recording", or GCR. Basically, the idea is to encode groups of bits into a larger group, selecting optimal bit sequences. This "more is less" approach works quite well. It was used by Apple, Victor, Micropolis, Commodore and others. Consider:

(1) You can have any number of reversals in a row, but
(2) You can't have two periods or more of non-reversal in a row (you'll lose synchronization).

So, create the following table of bit sequences:

10101010
10101011
10101110
10101111
...
11111011
11111101

For a total of 32 combinations or five bits' worth of data. Note that, unlike FM or MFM, there are no separate clock bits--the data is self-clocking.

You can see this sort of thing on inexpensive word processors, where the logic for MFM reading and writing is a cost concern, but FM doesn't give sufficient density.

Similarly, the Apple II used what amounts to a latch, shift register and ROM to implement a floppy controller using group-code (see the "Inside the Apple II" book for details; there were two schemes used). Commodore used approximately the scheme described above.

There are a lot of variations on the theme. Some can tolerate two or more periods of non-reversals; this enables more efficient coding at the expense of slightly less reliability.

GCR on floppies largely fell by the wayside after standard LSI floppy controllers became more affordable. What was once a major cost item that required extensive support circuitry went to occupying a corner of a SuperIO chip. Moore's law again.

Group code on tape drives has been around since 1973. The GCR scheme used on 6250 cpi tapes is quite clever. Later drives take the idea further with better bit densities.
Last edited by Chuck(G); December 6th, 2017 at 06:46 AM.

4. Sorry folks, my last question was very ill posed and caused
so much confusion.
Let's just delete that for now.

ziloo

5. As I understand, there were times when data to be copied on
the floppy disks were "inverted":

(the bottom image is ...em...like...ummmm .... kinda the inverted image of
the top one ..........well that was best emoji I could find... )

that is 11010010 would be recorded as 00101101. What was the reason for that?

ziloo

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Look up the difference between big-endian and little-endian. Having the order of bytes stored on disk match the order of bytes in memory makes everything just a little faster.

7. Floppy disks have traditionally used the opposite in bit ordering within a byte from, say, USART ordering. There are, as with anything having to do with floppies, exceptions, so it's not a given. It doesn't really matter; just a convention.

8. Don't mean to confuse the discussion but Chuck's comment about group-code schemes reminded me that Commodore also used zone bit recording (variable sector counts) as another scheme for packing more data onto a disk. The idea was that the tracks are larger at the outer edge of the media so they created more sectors there. Put another way, the physical limit of density on the disk is found at the inner rings (tracks) near the hub.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_bit_recording

-CH-

9. That zoned recording technique was also used in the Victor/Sirius and the Twiggy drives used a variation of it, varying from 15 to 22 sectors per track. (both of which also used GCR, a separate technique not related to zoned recording).

The scheme, of course, is much older than PCs; it was described in literature for the Bryant 4000 hard disk, manufactured by everyone's favorite milk carton maker...

10. I thought they made sponges...

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