Toshiba Ships First Perpendicular Drive

While Seagate and Hitachi may have garnered all the attention surrounding new perpendicular recording technology, which enables hard drives to store more data by standing bits upright, Toshiba has reached the market first.

The company on Tuesday announced it is shipping a 1.8-inch drive that packs 40GB onto a single disk platter. Such a feat is a breakthrough for small drives, and could mean larger capacity music players. In fact, Toshiba's new drive is available now in the company's Gigabeat F41 MP3 player.

Seagate announced its own perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) drives in June, but in a 2.5-inch form factor for laptops. The Seagate Momentus 5400.3, a massive 160GB notebook drive, is expected to begin shipping later this year.

"PMR opens the door to products we haven't even begun to imagine, by removing the technical barriers inherent to packing more data on an HDD," said Scott Maccabe, vice president of Toshiba's Storage Device Division.

"Providing greater storage capacity on mobile disk drives allows Toshiba to give system OEMs the tools they need for next-generation digital information and entertainment devices."

Hitachi previously announced plans to build 1 terabyte disk drives and 20GB microdrives using PMR, but admitted such capacities were years away. The new technology means an almost two-fold increase in storage space without adding more disk platters.

Toshiba, meanwhile, is going after the smaller device market and says it will double capacity to 80GB in a 1.8-inch drive later this year. That could mean even larger iPods without a jump in cost.

The company also plans to apply PMR technology to 0.85-inch drives, which could lead to 8GB of storage per platter in ultra-small form factor drives.

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