The new DiamondMax disk drive range represents not only a leapfrog in the disk storage industry, according to Maxtor it is also a significant step in rebuilding the image of a company that has been struggling for several years.
Working with a 1.2Gb platter rather than the 850Mb announced in the recent CrystalMax family, the new DiamondMax drives are able to scale from 2.5Gb to 5.1Gb. Maxtor Australian director Phillip Adams says they do so with unrivalled performance and reliability using Maxtor's Formula4 four-disk head assembly. The drives also now incorporate magneto-resistive heads and UltraDSP drive electronics, resulting in transfer rates of 16.7Mb/sec. "The introduction of this DiamondMax product represents a completely new mechanical design and a completely new electrical design. Maxtor has rebuilt its PC desktop products."
Adams says the new family is aimed at the high-performance end of the desktop market, whereas the recently announced CrystalMax line is aimed more towards the discount end.
A Diamond in the rough
According to technical marketing manager Roger Reich the DiamondMax series will greatly assist Maxtor in recovering from the loss of confidence it has suffered. He said Maxtor made the mistake in the early 1990s of sinking all of its investments in the 1.8 inch disk market, a market that never eventuated. "So we had this sunk investment in this technology and products that we couldn't ship in volume. The brutal truth is for the last five years Maxtor's been struggling to recover from the critical strategic error." Reich said Maxtor was forced to stretch its electrical and mechanical design for several years, to try and keep the product line, before eventually bringing in leadership technology and recovering from the improper investment.
Adams says a further bonus comes from Maxtor's new Singapore factory and the modular design approach implemented by Hyundai. He says Maxtor now has the ability to be fast to volume in the market, rather than merely first with the product, something competitors cannot match. "Even though they can release a high-capacity product and put it out to the market, they are not in a position to ramp that product to capacity very quickly. Our new design and also our modular manufacturing facility enables us to chop and change and also ramp volume quickly," he said.
Reich says feedback so far from OEMs has been extremely positive, with several of the top 10 PC vendors likely to take on the line. He added that an 8Gb product can be expected from Maxtor this year, as the company adds 22 new products to its line over the next 12 months.