In the race to make ever-smaller disk drives for hand-held consumer appliances, Hitachi announced today that it has matched Seagate Technologies with what it says is the smallest drive on the market, a one-inch-diameter hard drive that holds 8GB of data.
Hitachi's latest "bling" series are the industry's smallest one-inch and lightest 1.8-inch hard drive, introduced in concept earlier this year under the monikers Mikey and Slim.
Hitachi anticipates these two hard drives will play key roles in the emergence of high-capacity smart phones, multi-function audio/video players and other handheld consumer devices. CE manufacturers across these segments have already designed Mikey and Slim into prototype consumer devices, the earliest of which are expected out this year.
The new drives feature a combination of CE-specific features, such as higher capacity on smaller footprints, easier integration with a ZIF connector, CE-ATA interface, significantly lower power consumption for longer device battery life and shock protection through a number of technologies, including a new drop sensor.
While Hitachi dominates the market for the small drives--it supplied the drives for the original Apple Computer iPod--Seagate was the first company to announce it was shipping the highest-capacity miniature drive.
Seagate says that it began shipping the 8GB devices in July and that it has "a number of customers," for the device, though it refused to disclose which companies are installing it in devices.
Hitachi will likewise not disclose the customers for its new drives, but it is hoping that its drives will prove popular with cell phone makers, a new category for makers of hard drives.
Mikey Microdrive 3K8
Mikey, which is officially called the Hitachi Microdrive 3K8, will be available with 6 and 8 gigabytes (GB) of storage capacity and, yet, is nearly 20-percent smaller and consumes 40 percent less power than its predecessor. The 3K8 is also the first hard drive to offer the CE-ATA interface, which is designed to support the specific relationship between small-form-factor hard drives and the handheld consumer electronic devices in which they are embedded.
In addition, Hitachi is deploying drop-sensor technology on the new Microdrive, which protects against data loss in the event of a drop. Hitachi's ESP or Extra Sensory Protection technology works by immediately parking the read-write head safely away from the surface of the disk when it detects a fall, preventing head/disk contact which may cause data loss. ESP is activated during a drop of as little as four inches (10 cm) and effectively allows the operating-shock tolerance to mimic non-operating-shock tolerance, which in the 3K8 equates to 2000 Gs, the industry?s highest shock rating for a one-inch hard drive.
Travelstar C4K60 Slim
Hitachi's newest 1.8-inch drive, the Hitachi Travelstar C4K60 Slim, sports a profile that's 30-percent thinner than its predecessor, measuring a mere 5 mm on the one-disk model.
Slim offers an upper capacity of 30- and 60-GB of storage on the one- and two-disk model, respectively. Slim, like Mikey, features a ZIF connector for ease of integration in consumer electronic devices. Both drives are using femto slider technology for improved shock performance and power consumption.
The new CE-ATA interface, along with parallel ATA, will be available on all capacities of the Microdrive 3K8. Hitachi is also making the 3K8 available in the ATA on MMC interface. In addition, Hitachi plans future support for CE-ATA on its 1.8-inch Travelstar product line.
The 6- and 8-GB versions of the Microdrive 3K8 are now shipping in limited quantities, with volume shipment planned for October. Hitachi's ESP technology and support for the CE-ATA and ATA-on-MMC interfaces will be available starting in December.
The Travelstar C4K60 Slim will begin volume shipment of the 30-GB version at the end of this month. The 2-disk, 60-GB Slim model will ship in the first quarter of 2006.