April 3, 2006 9:00 PM PDT

Can a new hard drive meet the flash challenge?

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Donovan at TrendFocus warned, however, that getting the cellular companies to accept these drives could be an uphill battle. The 1.3-inch drives could easily fit inside a cell phone, but a phonemaker may not believe that their customers want that much storage.

Drivemakers have ruled out shrinking the size of drives. That would raise the cost and reduce storage size, making it even harder to compete against flash.

Hard-drive capacity, Donovan added, continues to grow about 40 percent annually, thus doubling hard-drive capacity every two years. In the late '90s, drive capacity had doubled annually.

CinemaStar turn
When it comes to its new line of drives, Hitachi says slower is better.

The CinemaStar drives are essentially DeskStar drives--Hitachi's PC line--tweaked to run more quietly, Healy said. The seek function, when the drive is looking for data, runs slower than on desktop drives. This allows the platters to spin at a lower rate and reduce noise; consumers, however, don't experience a drop in performance--or video-flicker--because it is easier for the drive to find the next scene in a movie than it is for it to find other types of data.

"You are reading long block lines, so you can slow down," Healy said. "We've developed algorithms so you can run the drive differently."

The drive head also moves off the surface of the drive platters as much as possible to reduce aerodynamic resistance on the head. That resistance is generated by the spinning platters, another source of noise.

In the future, Hitachi may try to take out some of the air inside the drive chassis and replace it with a different gas to further reduce aerodynamic resistance, Healy added.

The CinemaStar drives, which sport a 3.5-inch diameter platter, range in capacity from 80GB to 500GB. They will be sold to consumer electronics manufacturers and PC makers.

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Codenamed: Deathstar Drives...
If any of you have had to deal with the former IBM Deskstar (aka Deathstar) drives, good luck to Hitachi.
What we really need here is a revolution (pun) to stop putting mechanical drives in computers to depend on for data. It is the failure point for data loss. Not powerloss. Not cooling. But using a mechanical means to store your data. And it's slow.
Notice how the manufacturers are keeping the drives now at one year warranty. Only a few drives are 3-5 years (Raptors and SCSI). And a convoluted replacement scheme: You send your under-warranty but failed drive in (to 3rd party) for data recovery, meanwhile the manufacturer wants a deposit for a replacement drive and mandates you return the defective within 14 days or be charged MSRP for the replacement. It may take 14 days (unless you pay a premium) to turnaround your data and get your original drive back (opened and voided warranty) to exhange for the new warranty replacement.
Makes you want to become a Luddite.
Posted by Below Meigh (249 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Use wisely - use wisely
I have a 40Gb external drive. But I don't worry too much about mechanical failure.

Q. Why ?
A. Because I do NOT use it for permanent storage. I configure it as a (semi-permanent), mobile image. I mainly use it to ship data between home & work machine's. I have images on each machine & load up the drive, unplug, get to the destination, plug in, upload. It uses USB 2 & it's plenty fast enough for almost anything except real time streaming video.

It's a great alternative to a laptop, if you just want something smaller than an iPod, to transport your data. If you want to work en route, take a laptop, if not, just take the drive, containing a COPY of your data.

Mine's got mp3s, pictures & all sorts of project data. I do have about 25-30 Gb on it, depending on the project files, so a USB keychain is NOT an alternative.
Posted by (409 comments )
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That's what RAIDs are for....
No storage solution is perfect. You MUST back up your data on any storage solution to aviod losing it.

Whether you use raid or choose to use a second drive to store an image of your first drive (like Acronis TrueImage), you need to do some type of backup.

The flash drives also have a limitation that I hardly see mentioned. You cannot write to them indefinitely. Most have a very limited read/write lifetime. And this write lifetime of flash drives is significantly lower than that of mechanical hard drives.
Posted by Jim Hubbard (326 comments )
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breathe life into the floppy
I've noticed that the venerable 1.44 mb floppy disc is hanging in there--many of us or our companies have bought usb external drives when our new computers didn't come with one, because so many of us have important data still archived on them and because they are cheap, disposable, reusable ways to share small amounts of data--I think there's a real market for a "next-gen" floppy to insert in those drives and hold a lot more data. Whoever gives us an 8gb floppy will find a profitable market...
Posted by Razzl (1318 comments )
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ZIP
The ZIP drive was the answer to a higher capacity floppy. It didn't really get widespread use because it is SLOW. ZIP drives run about the same speed as a floppy drive and the media is EXPENSIVE. It is much easier to buy CDRs and just use a new CD each time instead of buying one ZIP disk. I say for slightly small storage and easy transportability, use a flash drive. For anything else, get an external hard drive. I have an external hard drive that was salvaged from an old hard drive that works on USB2 and does everything I could ever need for transporting large amounts of data.
Posted by lukenova (6 comments )
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Posted by cnet123_20 (2 comments )
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