CES 2006: 500 Gb likely the end of the line for current HDD storage technology

But while computer users typically might not be able to imagine how to fill their current generation of hard drive with space, digitally streamed multimedia content can consume whole gigabytes in a single file. As a result, we may be entering an era when even the latest HDD cannot provide appropriate space.

Pait told TG Daily he considers Seagate's currently largest desktop drive - a 500 Gb device - an "entry-level" solution for the high- definition age. Today, said Pait, "we're able to store about 83 hours of HD movie content on such a drive. But users typically tend to rip the content of a disc right onto the hard drive, in order to have music or movies locally available. This means our largest available hard drive is filled when ten HD discs are ripped."

According to Pait, Seagate has not yet made a final decision whether it will offer a consumer-level hard drive larger than 500 Gb - or if the company is able to even develop such a drive - before perpendicular recording dominates the landscape. "We are just about out of room," he said. And while perpendicular technology is expected to arrive in stores within a few weeks, in the form of 2.5" hard drives, the common 3.5" form factor that PC builders expect will have to wait.

Pait said that 3.5" CE drives with perpendicular recording technology will arrive "within two years." Until then, consumers may have to rely upon external SATA or USB hard drives, should Viiv or some other content service helps them run out of space too soon.

Exclusive coverage of CES 2006 continues throughout the day, from TG Daily and the network of TG Publishing.