Both Maxtor and Quantum have announced new technology that will let users pack as much as 50 per cent more data onto disk drives that are also more reliable and may cost less.
The two hard drive makers are taking dramatically different approaches to their next generations of products, which are all scheduled to ship in the next few months. In both cases, the drives will have greater areal density (the amount of data stored on the disk platters that are stacked together in drives) from 10GB to 15GB.
Maxtor is aiming for capacity and performance with two new drives scheduled to ship in April. The company's DiamondMax 60 will have 60GB of storage space and a 46GB version will also be available. The drives have a 2MB buffer for increased performance. Both drives spin at 5400 rotations per minute, but a company spokesperson says performance is comparable to 7200 rpm drives. This is because the data is packed more tightly, and read/write heads can access the data considerably faster than with drives using 10GB platters.
Maxtor is also offering a "value" line of drives that use the 15GB platters. The DiamondMax VL30 line will have a maximum capacity of 30GB, as well as capacities of 20.5GB, 15.4GB, and 7.7GB. Pricing will be announced upon release. The drives have a 512KB buffer and use fewer parts than their predecessors, which the company says increases reliability and reduces heat.
All new Maxtor drives are rated for an average access speed of 20ms, and feature the company's new "Silent Store" technology, which reduces noise through the drive's design and offers a new choice of "performance" or "quiet" modes. The quiet mode slightly drops the drive's seek time, further decreasing the drive's sound level. Mode must be specified upon order, Maxtor says.
The drives also have "Adaptive ATA" technology, which throttles down the drive slightly if a temperature sensor notes the drive is overheating.
Maxtor drives also feature dual-CPU electronics for fast performance. And PC World Labs tests on earlier versions of the company's DiamondMax drives found them to be outstanding performers, especially when copying files.
Meanwhile, Quantum has taken a radical approach to the design of its new drives based on the 15GB platters. Drives in its Fireball lct15 line actually spin slower (4400 rpm), which makes them quieter, according to Quantum. Both companies say the faster platters coupled with fewer components result in more reliable drives that generate less heat. This makes the drives ideal for PCs that lack fans, and for Internet appliances.
Quantum's new line will be available in four capacities: 30GB, 20.4GB, 15GB, and 7.5GB . All drives have a 512K buffer and a 12ms average access time, and are scheduled to be available in June.
Quantum aims its Fireball lct15 line at the "value" market, optimised for Internet access and word processing. Tests by PC vendors find those applications perform as well with 4400 rpm drives as with 7200 rpm drives.
All the new Maxtor and Quantum drives have the UltraDMA/66 interface, offering transfer speeds of up to 66MB per second. The drives are also compatible with slower-speed UltraDMA/33 (and earlier) EIDE drive interfaces.
A Maxtor representative said its new drives will also be compatible with the upcoming UltraDMA/100 interface, which is expected late this year.