Hitachi to Debut 1-Terabyte Drive at CES

Hitachi introduced the first commercially available one-terabyte hard drive on Friday, delivering on a promise made nearly two years ago. The drive uses perpendicular recording technology in order to store data.

The Deskstar 7K1000 is slated to beginning shipping in the first quarter of this year at a retail price of $399 USD, or about 40 cents per gigabyte. In addition, Hitachi will also release a version of the 1TB drive, called the CinemaStar, aimed at the burgeoning DVR market.

Putting the size into perspective: 500 full-length standard definition movies would fit, or 250 hours of HD programming, or even 250,000 hours of digital music.

The milestone also comes at the 50-year anniversary of the hard drive itself, and comes some 15 years after the industry was able to break the 1-gigabyte barrier.

"In the 51st year, Hitachi is leading a new era for hard drives -- not only providing large amounts of affordable storage, but also customizing and optimizing hard drives to deliver products that are smarter, more durable and more useful to the consumer," chief marketing officer Shinjiro Iwata said.

Hitachi beats Seagate, who is also developing a similar drive, to the 1TB level by several months. Seagate said late Thursday that it planned to have its own drive available within the first half of 2007, also based on perpendicular recording technology.

Seagate had previously held the record for the largest commercially available hard drive, a 750-gigabyte unit released in April of this year. However, the drive came at a hefty $559 USD price tag.

Such large drives may seem gluttonous, however Hitachi sees things different. It points to the increasing need to store all types of data, especially video, which can take up gigabytes of space for a single file. Additionally, with digital video recorders ever more popular, there is an increasing need for larger yet cost-effective HDD solutions.

"Consumers who increasingly rely on hard disk drives to store their digital memories are seeking higher capacity and more reliable HDDs," said John Rydning, research manager for hard disk drives at IDC.

iSuppli senior storage analyst Krishna Chander seems to agree, although points out that the drives would likely find a huge market in consumer PCs for at least a half a decade if not more.

"For exciting new products and applications like home gateways, media-center PCs, High Definition movie downloads, HD Set-Top Boxes and HD Digital Video Recorders, a 1Tbyte HDD fits the bill nicely, both in terms of capacity and cost," Chander added.

iSuppli said it expects shipments of hard drives for non-computing applications to grow at a much faster rate than for PCs. Whereas growth there from 2005 to 2010 is expected to be around 10.6 percent, non-computing hard drive shipments would increase 22.8 percent.

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