Removable Hard Drive Shrinks to 1.8 Inches
A consortium of companies developing a removable hard disk system for consumer use called iVDR (Information Versatile Disk for Removable usage) plan to unveil a prototype 1.8-inch drive with a serial ATA interface for the first time at the Consumer Electronic Show in January, an iVDR consortium representative says.
CES, which takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada, will also be the first time the iVDR system has been shown outside of Japan.
Three prototypes are expected to be showcased there, including a 2.5-inch iVDR disk with a parallel ATA interface, and a 2.5 and 1.8-inch iVDR drive with a faster and less costly serial ATA interface, said Toshiaki Hioki, a consortium representative from Sanyo Electric. The drives will be shown at the booth of Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, a new hard disk drive company Hitachi established after it acquired IBM 's hard disk unit in June.
Currently an iVDR disk can hold up to 80GB, which is expected to be doubled by the first quarter next year, and costs around $166 to $249), Hioki said. "This price may be acceptable for a computer peripheral but not for consumer electronics," he said.
For consumer electronics, such as a video recorder, the consortium aims to reduce the disk price to be under $80, Hioki said.
The iVDR removable hard disk was proposed by eight electronics companies--Canon, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Phoenix Technologies, Pioneer, Sanyo, Sharp, and Victor of Japan (JVC)--which formed a consortium in March.
By standardizing, promoting and licensing this new swappable removable hard disk system, the consortium members hope to solve two problems, said Hioki.
One is that as maximum hard disk drive capacity doubles each year, consumers need to keep buying new products to catch up with the latest drive technology.
The other is that since hard disk vendors keep adding more data capacity to their products, the price of the top-of-the-range hard disk drive does not change considerably meaning products, which often include the latest drives, also don't become much cheaper.
Since the establishment of the consortium in March this year, the members first developed the 2.5-inch iVDR drive and released basic specifications for hardware, a parallel ATA interface and file formats for the development of computer peripherals, Hioki said.
The consortium is now working on the establishment of specifications for the newer serial ATA interface for the 2.5-inch iVDR disk, and also for the 1.8-inch iVDR disk. This smaller hard disk is expected to be used in applications like car navigation systems and audio players.
The serial ATA interface specifications for both sizes are expected to be released after they are approved by the consortium members at a general meeting in March next year.
The 1.8-inch iVDR will be slightly thinner than a 2.5-inch iVDR disk, which measures 5.2 inches wide by 3 inches deep by a half inch high. This will allow the 1.8-inch disk to fit into a 2.5-inch size slot with an adaptor, Hioki said.
"I hope we can attract many computer peripheral makers at CES, so that the iVDR system will start spreading and be used in personal computers first. This will reduce the price of the hard disk and eventually, will allow consumer electronics to be equipped with an iVDR slot," Hioki said.
One more hurdle to clear for iVDR in the use of consumer electronics is that of a copyright protection format. The consortium plans to approach the movie industry soon and hopes to complete the standardization of its copy protection code by March, next year, Hioki said.