Seagate announces first harddrive with perpendicular recording tech

SCotts Valley (CA) - Seagate allowed a first look at its product line for the next three quarters. The company will introduce ten new drives for consumers, including 500 GByte desktop drives, an 8 GByte CF II-sized drive as well as a 160 GByte notebook drive that will make use of perpendicular recording.

Harddrive technology is probably on of those IT segments that have seen the least amount of innovation over the past 30 years, at least from a consumer perspective. Apart from increasing storage capacity, the basic technology behind the harddisk has been the same for decades. But market dynamics are active in the storage industry as well, forcing manufacturers to react to market trends and shift product lines. Seagate's annual product update provides a first outlook what drives we can expect over the next nine months.

The most significant changes in Seagate's offering will happen in the mobile space. Capacity of notebook drives will climb to 160 GByte by the first quarter of next year, bringing the mobile computer closer to the desktop than ever before. While the additional effort in the notebook drive market is a clear reaction to the rising demand for mobile computers, these mobile drives, named "Momentus 5400.3" offer another unique feature: The devices will be first to use perpendicular recording technology.

Instead using just the horizontal space available on a disk, perpendicular recording aligns data vertically to increase storage density. The technology is believed to take the storage industry well beyond of today's storage density limitations and allow the creation of TeraByte drives.

Seagate will also introduce a new addition to the Momentus series. The 5400 FDE is the first drive to integrate hardware-based encryption of all data stored on the drive. The company says this feature will appeal especially to corporations who want to safeguard the data on the computers of their employees. Access to the harddrive is secured through the input of an User ID input that is required before the BIOS and system is launched.

The big news in the desktop space is certainly that we are entering the half-TeraByte era with the first drives offering 500 GByte of capacity. Seagate will offer such drives for consumer electronics (CE) applications such as digital video recorders, external storage devices as well as high-end storage for desktop computers. The CE-aimed DB35 as well as the ninth-generation Barracuda 7200 will be available in the third quarter of this year. 3.5" external drives arrive for the holiday season.

The CE space will also see an update of Seagate's 1" harddrive to 8 GByte as well as an addition of harddrives designed for use in automobiles (EE25 series) with up to 40 GByte of space. Seagate said that it is already shipping its LD25 drives to Microsoft for integration in the Xbox 360 game console (20 GByte). Portable storage is updated with a 120 GByte 2.5" drive as well as an 8 GByte CF II-sized drive that aims at digital camera users. Seagate said it will offer the 8 GByte "Photo Hard Drive" for less than $400.

According to the company, reliability and capacity will remain the most important selling points for harddrives, as it allows manufacturers to offer "the most economical way" to store data. While perpendicular recording is seen as a way to improve performance of harddrives, Seagate's said it has no plans at this time to react to recent announcements from Samsung to use Flash to speed up read and write speeds of its products. "We need to look at a balance of performance, capacity, cost and reliability when designing new products. We are not sure, if Flash is the right way to go," a spokesperson said.

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