Samsung plans 0.85-inch hard-disk drive this year

Samsung Electronics is planning to begin shipping a 4GB 0.85-inch hard-disk drive in the third quarter of this year, it said Monday.

Samsung Electronics is planning to enter the competitive miniature hard-disk drive market later this year, according to an executive at its semiconductor unit.

The company's first product would have a storage capacity of 4GB and be available later this year, vice-president of Samsung Electronics' semiconductor business, Kim Il Ung, said.

Kim didn't provide any other details of the product but a company spokesperson said the drive would be a 0.85-inch type available by the third quarter.

That drive will put Samsung Electronics head-to-head with Toshiba, which is currently the only company that has a 0.85-inch drive on the market. Toshiba's current 0.85-inch drive offers a 2GB capacity but the company said last week that it will have a 4GB version available in the middle of the year.

Competing products are all based on 1-inch drive platters that offer more storage capacity but are physically larger. In devices such as music players, the slight size difference might not be particularly important but in products where a higher premium is attached to size, such as mobile phones, the difference could be valuable.

While the vast majority of miniature drives are used in digital music players or other portable electronics products, Samsung Electronics is the only company so far to have fitted a drive into a mobile phone.

Samsung's new drive won't just be competing with other miniature drives but also with flash memory.

Samsung expects the price of flash memory to drop by roughly half in each of the next two to three years and said similar price falls for miniature hard-disk drives would be difficult to achieve.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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