IBM puts cat among storage pigeons

IBM puts cat among storage pigeons

IBM has developed a disk drive for PCs that can store eight times more information than current average desktop hard drives.

IBM's Deskstar 16GP, slated to ship in computers by the first quarter of 1998, has a maximum 16.8Gb hard drive, or enough space to hold eight hours of full motion video, officials said.

IBM's announcement ups the ante among makers of storage devices to develop the highest capacity disk drive. Quantum recently unveiled what it claimed was the industry's first 12Gb hard drive, with its Bigfoot TX series, while Seagate has made similar announcements with its Barracuda hard drive. However, both vendors are seriously lagging behind IBM's latest offering which looks set to give Big Blue a huge time-to-market advantage over its rivals.

IBM's increased storage is derived from a state-of-the-art technology developed by IBM called Giant Magnetoresistive (GMR) head. GMR enables the production of a highly sensitive sensor, no larger than a pinhead, which reads data from the part of a disk drive called the platter.

A more sensitive head means the sensor can read platters containing more data bits per square inch, known as a higher "areal density". Drives with a higher areal density generally have higher levels of performance, reliability and storage capacity, officials said.

IBM will use the GMR drives in its own computers, and also begin shipping it to other systems manufacturers this month, said Bob Scranton, vice president of technology for IBM's Storage Systems Division. Two of IBM's storage customers are Dell and Gateway 2000.

Over the next year IBM will incorporate the tech- nology into laptop and Web server products, and eventually will transfer all of its systems to GMR, Scranton said.

The first PCs containing the new technology are expected to begin shipping in the first quarter of next year.

The Deskstar 16GP, with a disk speed of 5400 RPM, will be available in seven disk capacities ranging from 3.2Gb to 16.8Gb.

For power users who want faster access to their data, IBM also announced the Deskstar 14GXP desktop, with a disk speed of 7200RPM. The 14GXP model is available in three storage capacities ranging from 10.1Gb to 14.4Gb.

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