Seagate to ship 160GB notebook drive

Seagate Technology LLC will start a shipping 2.5-inch notebook PC drive with 160GB of capacity in the first quarter of next year, it said Thursday.

The drive was one of a series of new products, including new 500GB drives, that the company announced at a news conference in Tokyo.

The extra storage for the 160GB drive is achieved through a new technology called perpendicular recording, according to Tsuyoshi Kobayashi, vice president and regional director of Nippon Seagate Inc.

Perpendicular technology is being introduced by most of the world’s major hard drive vendors and promises a series of big capacity boosts in the coming years for drives used in servers, PCs, notebooks and portable devices, the vendors say.

It works by standing the magnetic fields that represent data bits upright. In today’s commercially available drives, those fields lay flat on the disk surface. Standing them upright means they take less space, enabling more to be packed on the disk.

Seagate’s drive looks to be the first 2.5-inch drive with this capacity using perpendicular recording technology to hit the market. For notebooks, two companies have so far said they plan to use the technology with 2.5-inch drives. Hitachi Global Storage Technologies Inc. is field-testing 100GB drives, but has yet to announce it is shipping them. In April, Fujitsu Ltd. said it planned to sell 200GB drives using perpendicular technology, but not until 2007.

Seagate’s Momentus 5400.3 160GB drive will have a spin speed of 5,400 rpm and come with either the Ultra ATA-100 interface or SATA (Serial ATA) 150 interface, according to the company.

The company will use the technology to boost the capacity of a range of its 2.5-inch drives, Kobayashi said.

One will be a 7,200 rpm version due next year, although the company did not specify the capacity. Others will have capacities as high as 240GB and be available within a few years, Kobayashi said.

Seagate is also considering adopting perpendicular recording technology for both its 3.5-inch and 1-inch drives, but the company isn’t saying exactly what it’s planning yet, he said.

“There’s no boundary. Perpendicular can be used in drives regardless of the form factor,” Kobayashi said.

As well as the push into perpendicular technology, Seagate is also increasing the capacity options for many of its upcoming drives using conventional storage technology. Many of these are aimed at consumer applications, he said.

At the high capacity end, the company will start shipping three new 3.5-inch 500GB drives in the next six months, it said.

The 500GB Barracuda 7200.9, as with prior products in the range, is aimed at high-end PCs. The company is also introducing a new line of products called the DB35 series for video recorders and home servers. Capacities in the range start at 80GB and top out with the 500GB version. The third 500GB product is an external drive, the company said.

The new Barracuda and the DB35 series will ship in the July-September quarter, while the external drive will ship in the October-December period, Seagate said.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the company is also offering new 1-inch drives and, for the first time, will sell its own brand of Compact Flash (CF) card form-factor drives, it said.

The ST1 series for MP3 players and other portable devices comes in 4GB and 8GB versions. The company put its first CF form-factor drives on sale earlier this year with capacities of 2.5GB and 5GB and these were sold to electronics makers. The new CF drives, aimed at photographers, will come in 4GB and 8GB capacities, Kobayashi said.

Both the ST1 and the CF drives will ship in the July-September period, the company said.

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