Toshiba is close to commercialising a new data storage technology that could increase the capacity of hard disc drives, it said on Tuesday.
The company plans to put on sale in the middle of 2005 two 1.8-inch hard disc drives that use the new data storage technology, called perpendicular recording. Like current drives, the new method relies on storing data in magnetically charged bits, but unlike current longitudinal recording, in which the bits lie flat on the disk surface, in perpendicular recording they stand upright and thus take up less space. This means there is room on the disc and so the storage capacity is higher.
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The first two drives planned by Toshiba to use the technology will have a recording density of 133Gbits per square inch, which is 37% greater than current drives, said Junko Furuta, a spokeswoman for Toshiba in Tokyo.
They will be 1.8-inch drives of the type used in portable consumer electronics products, such as digital music players. One of Toshiba's best-known customers for its 1.8-inch drives is Apple, which uses them in its iPod family of music players. The greater recording density could help Toshiba's customers produce thinner and lighter products.
For example, one of the two drives will have a single disc platter and be capable of storing 40Gbytes of data. Toshiba's current 40Gbyte drive requires two platters to achieve this capacity.
The drop from a dual to a single platter means the overall drive falls in thickness from 8mm to 5mm. Toshiba's second drive will pack two platters and offer a total storage capacity of 80Gbytes - the highest yet for a device of its size.
Other major specifications of the drives, including the weight, average seek time and rotational speed, remain similar to Toshiba's current 1.8-inch drives.
Sample drives are available now £595 for the 40Gbyte model and £738 for the 80Gbyte model.
Toshiba also wants to use the technology in its 0.85-inch drive. Employing perpendicular recording along with other new technologies will raise the capacity of the drives from between 2Gbyte and 4Gbytes to between 6Gbytes and 8Gbytes, said Furuta.
Martyn Williams writes for the IDG News Service