Iomega will launch two removable magnetic-based storage formats in the first half of next year, one aimed at small and medium enterprises and the other at consumer users.
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The first, the Removable Rigid Disk (RRD), will offer a capacity of 35Gbytes per cartridge and will target small and medium enterprises, said Scott Sheehan, vice-president of business development at Iomega.
The cartridge contains the media platter and spindle motor parts of a hard disc while the drive includes the read/write head, eject mechanism and interface.
"We see potential for RRD in a number of areas, primarily as tape replacement in small and medium businesses where tape is used for backup and recovery," said Sheehan.
Chief competitors of the format will include DDS (Digital Data Storage), Travan and low-end DLT (Digital Linear Tape), said Sheehan.
RRD will offer potential users a number of advantages over those and other tape and optical disc-based backup formats because it will combine the speed and performance of a hard disc drive with the portability of those competing products.
Provisional specifications issued by Iomega show an average data transfer rate of 18MBps compared with a rate of up to 3MBps for DLT, 2MBps for Travan and around 5.5MBps for recordable DVD, according to Iomega. File access time is similarly fast at around 13 milliseconds.
"What this means to small system business users is that a typical 20Gbyte back up will take 20 minutes instead of two hours," he said.
RRD is also bootable and Iomega has developed a system called "boot and run" that will make it possible to launch a system directly from a backup in the event of a system failure, said Sheehan.
Commercial availability of drives is scheduled for the first quarter of 2004 and Iomega expects to have products supporting USB (Universal Serial Bus), ATAPI, SCSI and Serial ATA interfaces.
Drives are projected to cost $349 with each 35Gbyte cartridge costing between $39 and $49.
The second format is Digital Capture Technology (DCT), which is due out next year.
DCT discs are around 5cm in diameter and look similar to the company's now defunct Pocket Zip, or Clik discs but can hold much more data. First generation versions will have a capacity of 1.5Gbytes compared with the 40Mbytes of Pocket Zip.
Drives will either be available for integration into products or, like the earlier Pocket Zip format, in a PC Card form factor that can be plugged into a personal computer or other device.
The system aimed at digital consumer electronics companies.
The PC Card drives are expected to cost around $149 and discs will cost around $10 each.
Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service