Toshiba will begin mass-producing a 60Gbyte, 1.8in hard-disc drive, like those commonly used in digital music players and sub-notebook computers, before the end of the year.
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The drive offers a 50% improvement in storage space over its current highest capacity 1.8in hard drive without being physically larger.
The major factor that contributed to this increase was an advance in a thin-film technology used for both the head and platter, said Midori Suzuki, a spokeswoman for Toshiba.
This enabled it to increase the density at which data can be stored on the disc's surface: the new diskcs take 93.5Gigabits per square inch versus 61.2Gigabits on the current models, she said, so each disc platter can accommodate 30Gbytes of data (compared with 20Gbytes in the current highest capacity drive) and a two-platter drive can hold up to 60Gbytes of data.
The jump in density is also having a positive effect at the middle of Toshiba's 1.8in drive range. Its current 30Gbyte model relies on two disk platters and so is 8mm thick but this capacity can now be accomplished with a single platter, allowing the drive thickness to be reduced to 5mm.
Toshiba has also reduced the size of the sliders that keep the drive's read/write head at the correct distance above the disc surface, Suzuki said. The new drive also enjoys lower power consumption. It has been cut by an average 20% over current drives because of an adaptation in the way the disc spindle motor is controlled.
Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service