August 16, 2005 10:19 AM PDT

Perpendicular drives hit the market

Toshiba says it has become the first manufacturer to commercially release hard drives with perpendicular recording platters, an industrywide innovation that greatly increases the amount of data a drive can hold.

The MK4007GAL 1.8-inch drive packs 40GB on a single platter, which is the most for a 1.8-inch diameter hard drive platter to date. The platters can hold 206 megabits per square millimeter. The drive can be found in Toshiba's Gigabeat F41 music player. Toshiba also makes drives for Apple Computer's iPods.

Two configurations of the drive exist: a 40GB with one platter and a two-platter 80GB drive. Next year, the Japanese giant will insert perpendicular drives into its mini 0.85-inch diameter drives.

Perpendicular recording involves recording data in vertical, three-dimensional columns rather than in two dimensions on a plane. In a sense, this is akin to having people in a crowded city center move from single family homes to high rises. Although the shift to perpendicular recording methods greatly increases the amount of data that can be stored in a small space, it has forced the drive industry to put extra work into developing disk media, new heads and new electronics.

Toshiba's margin of victory will likely be short-lived. Every major manufacturer has announced plans for perpendicular drives. In June, Seagate unfurled a line of perpendicular drives that the company said would begin to ship later in the summer.

Hitachi also plans to come out with perpendicular drives this year, as well as an even more dense version of these types of drives in 2007.

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Small is okay, but why not think big?
I want to see them use this perpendicular recording technology to squeeze terabytes onto a single 3.5" desktop drive.

Yes it's cool that you can fit 80gig in an inch and a half, because iPods and cellphones don't have room for multiple drives like desktops do, but I've already packed my tower with disks and my only option now is external storage options, which are cumbersome and slow.

Or even premiere a notebook drive that could keep a couple hundred gigs so I can carry all of my editing footage on the road without depending on a separate device to host the content.

It's a good start, but why not go for the bang? A terabyte laptop sounds way more impressive than an 80gig iPod. Because how much music do you really have on yours?
Posted by pigonthewing (15 comments )
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My guess...
My guess is that they don't want to bring this technology to standard drives because it could decimate the SAN industry as it currently stands.

Right now, they can sell racks of storage, totalling hundreds of drives. I don't have definitive numbers, but I would assume that the returns on multiple racks + disks + controllers + switches + the rest are much greater than (for example) one rack + fewer perpendicular disks + fewer controllers + fewer switches.

Consider also the myopic nature of many managers. Having so many racks justifies paying millions of dollars for terabytes of storage. "Look at all of the hardware that we got for our money!" Now imagine condensing that same storage down from four racks to a single rack with perpendicular drives. From a technical perspective, it's the same amount of storage. From a marketing and visual perspective, I can very easily hear management saying, "But if it's only one rack, why should we pay so much?"

And anyone who thinks I'm kidding clearly has not worked in the I.T. field long enough to know any better.

Another reason is probably that the technology is bleeding edge. They probably want to "field test" it before it's released to the PC masses who want more space for their DVD rips.

Just my two cents. Convert to your currency as appropriate.
Posted by JLBer (100 comments )
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