Hitachi Drives Consumer Storage

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Hitachi Global Storage Technologies is launching a new line of 1.8-inch Travelstar C4K60 hard drives. The new drives will feature high-density 30GB platters and ZIF (zero insertion force) connectors for use in small consumer-electronic devices such as portable MP3 players.

Using a ZIF connector, rather than a traditional PC connector, allows Hitachi to reduce each drive's footprint by 10 percent. In designing the new drives, the company looked at how to adapt its existing 1.8-inch drives to improve their suitability for use in consumer electronics devices, says Anh Phan, Hitachi's director of business management for 1.8-inch hard drives.

"There are several big factors in the consumer electronics market--size, ease of integration, shock, power consumption, and acoustics--beyond the power and performance that we have historically concentrated on," Phan says.

"A lot of consumer electronics devices are small, and there is not much room to work with, so we introduced a ZIF connector onto the drive," he says.

"These [ZIF] connectors are designed to be moved around a lot. They help to secure the cable in there and help the assembly line go much quicker," Phan says. Hitachi is the first drive manufacturer to make a 1.8-inch drive with a ZIF connector, according to Phan.

Storage Space

The density at which data is stored on the disk surface has been increased to 99.8 gigabits per square inch, which Hitachi says is a record among 1.8-inch drives. The increased density means that you can store up to 30GB on a single disk platter, the company says in a statement.

Hitachi will offer the new Travelstar C4K60 drives, which spin at 4200 RPM, in 20GB ($125) and 30GB ($160) models. The company believes that these capacities represent the "sweet spot" for digital music players, says Phan. He reports that the company has no current plans to manufacture a two-platter 60GB drive in this particular line.

Though Phan expects consumer products equipped with the new drives to start shipping in time for the Christmas season, consumers are unlikely notice the switch, since most consumer electronics don't specify the drive inside. Because drives in the C4K60 line use less power than comparable drives from other vendors, however, consumers may reap better battery life from the new devices.

Samples of the drives are now shipping to customers, and Hitachi is ready to begin mass production, says Phan.

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