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We have demonstrated 23.8 Gb/in.2 areal density using a merged read-write grant magnetoresistive head, with an oriented thin film medium tested with broadband electronics and enhanced EPR4 channels. The medium had high signal to noise ratio metrics that was robust unto temperatures as high as 75 °C. A unique aspect of the head design at such a narrow track width is the simultaneous enhancement of the transducer sensitivity while keeping product and system manufacturability in the forefront. The areal density was demonstrated at a track density of 45.8 k tracks/in., using photolithographically defined poles and linear density of 520 k bits/in. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.