Hitachi, Fujitsu, Toshiba considering joint disk venture?

Rumour suggests three Japanese giants want to pool their storage expertise, a move that could undermine some corporate storage pitches.

Hitachi, Fujitsu and Toshiba are reportedly considering the formation of a joint venture to develop storage products. says the three are in talks.

The move comes after several months in which Hitachi has publicly sought a way to return its disk-making business to profitability. Hitachi acquired its disk business from IBM in 2002 but in late 2007 was reportedly considering a partial sell-off to private equity firm Silver Lake as one of several possible turnaround plans. That transaction has not taken place.

Any such deal would prove interesting to Hitachi Data Systems, which has long touted its links to Hitachi's drive-making business as an important differentiator as it battles the likes of EMC and NetApp in the market.

The move is also interesting for Fujitsu, which quietly offers its own storage arrays. Fujitsu's offerings emphasise Massive Arrays of Inexpensive Disk (MAID) a technology that reduces arrays' power consumption of by spinning down unused disks. MAID has become an one of the technologies most often mentioned when "green" storage is discussed.

Both companies have also recently announced that they will exit the markets for 1.8 inch and 1.0 inch hard drives, a product expected to be superseded by flash memory in devices like MP3 players.

The move to flash for such devices has not, however, deterred Toshiba from last week launching a range of external drives using 1.8 inch hard disks.

Quite what the three hope to gain from any alliance is unclear. Hitachi will only discuss its intention to restore its disk business to profitability, while Toshiba and Fujitsu are yet to comment on the rumour.

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