Toshiba has big plans for a small drive

Toshiba will begin commercial production of its 0.85in hard disc drive before the end of this year.

Toshiba will begin commercial production of its 0.85in hard disc drive before the end of this year.

The drive, which was first unveiled earlier this year, is about the same size as an SD (Secure Digital) memory card and target applications include a new generation of smaller digital music players and other portable multimedia devices such as mobile phones.

Specifications of the first production drives were not available but Toshiba's latest prototype drive can store up to 2Gbytes of data and is 3.3mm thick, a Toshiba spokesman said.

Initially, Toshiba will produce drives for sale to other companies for inclusion in their own products, he said. Typically it takes between three and six months for products featuring new components to appear on the market.

The drives are suited to use in portable electronics equipment for reasons beyond their size. The 0.85in drive is about one-fifth the volume and weight of its current 1.8in drives, which are used in digital music players such as Apple Computer's iPod and sub-notebook computers. In operation it consumes around half the power and its operating shock resistance is double that of a 1.8in drive.

The company is positioning the new disc drive and other small size drives, such as its 1.8in drives, as one of its core products in its component line-up for the coming years.

Setting its goals for the period to 2010, Toshiba said it is aiming to become the leading maker of a number of component products by the end of the decade including small-size hard disc drives, DVD and HD-DVD drives, SED (Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display) panels, multimedia system LSI chips, NAND flash memory chips and blue lasers.

Looking ahead to the end of the decade, Toshiba said it expects 0.85in hard disc drives to boast capacities of between 15Gbytes and 30Gbytes. Larger 1.8in drives should be available in capacities between 160Gbytes and 320Gbytes while 2.5in drives could be available up to 640Gbytes and 3.5in drives to 2Tbytes.

Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service

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