Seagate Technology LLC has unveiled a line-up of new hard disk drives that it expects to launch in the second half of this year, including its first 1-inch drive for portable consumer electronics devices.
Seagate anticipates the new drives will expand its range so that it competes in 95 percent of the estimated US$22 billion per year global hard-disk drive storage market, according to Takeshi Kobayashi, president of Seagate’s Japan unit, speaking at a news conference in Tokyo. At present the company estimates it competes in about 70 percent of the market
Seagate’s 1-inch drive plans make it the second major hard disk drive maker to enter this part of the market, which is currently dominated by Hitachi Global Storage Technologies Inc. (HGST) and its MicroDrive products. Other companies making such drives include Chinese start-up GS Magicstor Inc. and Colorado-based Cornice Inc.
At present the drives are almost exclusively used embedded into digital music players or in a Compact Flash (CF) form-factor case in high-end digital still cameras. Apple Computer Inc. uses HGST’s drive in its recently launched iPod Mini music player and Cornice has found a number of customers for its drive, including iRiver Co. Ltd. and Digitalway Co. Ltd., for use in MP3 players.
Seagate expects to launch its 1-inch drive in the third quarter of this year and will offer it in two versions, one for embedded use and one in a CF case. The drive will come in two capacities: 2.5GB and 5GB. That could put Seagate ahead of its competitors in terms of capacity. The current highest capacity 1-inch drive available is a 4G byte model from HGST.
Wednesday’s announcement also included products aimed at existing sectors of the market including the fast-growing consumer digital video recorder sector and core computing sector.
The DB35 series consists of three drives and is targeted at the digital video recorder and home media server market. The drives have capacities of 250GB, 300GB and 400GB. In the case of the highest capacity drive this works out to up to 400 hours of standard definition television or 44 hours of high-definition television, according to Seagate, although recording time depends on the amount of compression used. The 7,200 rpm (revolutions per minute) drives will be available with ATA or Serial ATA (SATA) interface and will be available in the third quarter.
Also announced were three new drives aimed at use in desktop and notebook personal computers.
For the notebook PC sector, the company announced the Momentus 5400.2 and Momentus 7200.1 products. The former are 5,400 rpm ATA drives intended for use in mainstream notebooks and the latter are 7,200 rpm ATA and Serial ATA (SATA) drives aimed at workstation-class machines. Both are available in 60G-byte, 80G-byte and 100G-byte capacities. The slower drives will be available in the third quarter and the faster drives in the fourth quarter.
For desktop personal computer and entry-level RAID server use the company also announced the Barracuda 7200.8 series, which will be available in ATA or SATA versions in capacities of 250GB, 300GB and 400GB. They are expected in the third quarter.
Seagate is also planning a range of three USB (Universal Serial Bus) external drive products based on the previous drives. Models based on the 1-inch and 2.5-inch products will be available in the third quarter and models based on the 3.5-inch drive in the fourth quarter.
For the enterprise sector the company announced four new drives.
They included the Cheetah 10K.7, which is a 10,000 rpm SCSI or Fiber Channel drive that will be available in capacities of 73GB, 147GB and 300GB, and the Cheetah 15K.4, which is a 15,000 rpm SAS (Serial Attached SCSI), Fiber Channel or SCSI drive in 36G-byte, 73G-byte and 147G-byte capacities. All of these drives are expected in the third quarter.
The highest capacity drive in the new line-up is the Seagate NL35-series drive which is a 7,200 rpm drive with a storage capacity of 500GB. The drive is targeted at use in nearline (between online and archive) storage applications and will be available with a Fiber Channel interface and is expected to be available in the fourth quarter. A SATA version will follow in 2005, said Seagate.
Rounding out the enterprise line-up is the Savvio 10K.1, which will also be available in the fourth quarter and is a 10,000 rpm drive in 36G-byte and 73G-byte capacities. It has an SAS interface and is intended for use in high-density storage applications.
The new line-up comes on the heels of the company’s announcement last week that it plans to lay off about 7 percent of its global workforce, or about 2,900 employees, as part of a restructuring. The company is looking to reduce its operating costs by $150 million this year as part of the plan.
Seagate was hit by during the third quarter by a number of factors including lower than anticipated demand for the company’s notebook drives. Shipments of notebook drives was around 1 million drives during the quarter against the forecast 1.6 million.