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.
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.
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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