Seagate unveils new drives, 1-inch model

Seagate unveils new drives, 1-inch model

Seagate Technology has unveiled a line-up of new hard disk drives that it expects to launch in the second half of the year, including its first 1-inch drive for portable consumer electronics devices.

Seagate anticipates the new drives will expand its range so that it competes in 95 per cent of the estimated $US22 billion per year global hard-disk drive storage market, according to president of Seagate's Japan unit, Takeshi Kobayashi.

At present the company estimates it competes in about 70 per cent of the market.

Seagate's 1-inch drive plans make it the second major hard disk drive maker to enter this part of the market, which is currently dominated by Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST) and its MicroDrive products. Other companies making such drives include Chinese start-up, GS Magicstor, and Colorado-based Cornice.

At present the drives are almost exclusively used embedded into digital music players or in a Compact Flash (CF) form-factor case in high-end digital still cameras. Apple Computer uses HGST's drive in its recently launched iPod Mini music player and Cornice has found a number of customers for its drive, including iRiver Co. and Digitalway Co., for use in MP3 players.

Seagate expects to launch its 1-inch drive in the third quarter of this year and will offer it in two versions, one for embedded use and one in a CF case. The drive will come in two capacities: 2.5GB and 5GB. That could put Seagate ahead of its competitors in terms of capacity. The current highest capacity 1-inch drive available is a 4GB model from HGST.

The latest announcement also included products aimed at existing sectors of the market including the fast-growing consumer digital video recorder sector and core computing sector.

The DB35 series consists of three drives and is targeted at the digital video recorder and home media server market. The drives have capacities of 250GB, 300GB and 400GB. In the case of the highest capacity drive this works out to up to 400 hours of standard definition television or 44 hours of high-definition television, according to Seagate, although recording time depends on the amount of compression used. The 7200 rpm (revolutions per minute) drives will be available with ATA or Serial ATA (SATA) interface and will be available in the third quarter.

Three new drives aimed at use in desktop and notebook personal computers were also announced.

For the notebook PC sector, the company announced the Momentus 5400.2 and Momentus 7200.1 products. The former are 5400 rpm ATA drives intended for use in mainstream notebooks and the latter are 7200 rpm ATA and Serial ATA (SATA) drives aimed at workstation-class machines. Both are available in 60GB, 80GB and 100GB capacities. The slower drives will be available in the third quarter and the faster drives in the fourth quarter.

For desktop personal computer and entry-level RAID server use the company also announced the Barracuda 7200.8 series, which will be available in ATA or SATA versions in capacities of 250GB, 300GB and 400GB. They are expected in the third quarter.

Seagate is also planning a range of three Universal Serial Bus (USB) external drive products based on the previous drives. Models based on the 1-inch and 2.5-inch products will be available in the third quarter and models based on the 3.5-inch drive in the fourth quarter.

For the enterprise sector the company announced four new drives.

They included the Cheetah 10K.7, which is a 10,000 rpm SCSI or Fiber Channel drive that will be available in capacities of 73GB, 147GB and 300GB, and the Cheetah 15K.4, which is a 15,000 rpm Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), Fiber Channel or SCSI drive in 36GB, 73GB and 147GB capacities. All of these drives are expected in the third quarter.

The highest capacity drive in the new line-up is the Seagate NL35-series drive which is a 7200 rpm drive with a storage capacity of 500GB. The drive is targeted at use in nearline (between online and archive) storage applications and will be available with a Fiber Channel interface and is expected to be available in the fourth quarter.

A SATA version would follow in 2005, Seagate said.

Rounding out the enterprise line-up is the Savvio 10K.1, which will also be available in the fourth quarter and is a 10,000 rpm drive in 36GB and 73GB capacities. It has an SAS interface and is intended for use in high-density storage applications.

The new line-up comes on the heels of the company's announcement that it plans to lay off about 7 per cent of its global workforce, or about 2900 employees, as part of a restructuring. The company is looking to reduce its operating costs by $150 million this year as part of the plan.

During the third quarter, Seagate was hit by a number of factors including lower than anticipated demand for the company's notebook drives. About 1 million notebook drives were shipped during the quarter against the forecast 1.6 million.

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