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Properties and performance for alloy and multilayer perpendicular recording media designs utilizing a soft magnetic underlayer are compared. Among samples considered here, grain size and grain size dispersion are more highly refined for alloy media deposited at high substrate temperature, and are beginning to approach those now available in longitudinal recording. Multilayer media made at ambient temperature typically sacrifice film density and surface smoothness for interface quality. Although microstructural development and the manufacturing process for multilayer media are less mature versus alloy, multilayer media remain attractive due to their high anisotropy potential and the ease with which Hn and Hc can be controlled. For thermally stable alloy media made on a pilot production sputtering machine, a spin-stand areal density of 61 Gb/in2 has been demonstrated at 350 Mb/s data rate with an on-track bit-error-rate reference level of 1e-6. Using the same media, a working perpendicular drive has been demonstrated at 32 Gb/in2 and 500-800 Mb/s data rate.