Fujitsu begins sampling 120GB notebook hard drive

Fujitsu has begun initial production of a 120GB hard-disk drive for notebook computers, it said Monday.

Fujitsu has begun initial production of a hard-disk drive for notebook computers that offers 120GB of storage capacity.

The new drive offered 20 per cent more storage capacity and several other improvements over Fujitsu's nearest 2.5-inch rival, vice-president of marketing at Fujitsu Computer Products of America, Joel Hagberg, said.

Samples of the drives were already with notebook vendors for testing and Fujitsu planned to begin shipping commercial versions of the drive during the second quarter, he said.

The jump in storage capacity was achieved by cramming data more closely together on the disk's surface. The result is an areal density of 104Gbits per square inch in the new drive. The additional improvements include a doubling of the number of times the drive head can be loaded and unloaded from the disk to 600,000, a cut in power consumption and an increase in the drive's ability to handle mechanical shocks.

While Fujitsu's announcement gives the company initial bragging rights for a 120GB notebook drive, the highly competitive nature of the storage market means it's not likely to be long before the company's rivals begin announcing similar plans.

Despite the extra pressure from rivals, the market remained good for Fujitsu, Hagberg said.

In the last one-and-a-half years Fujitsu had increased its production of drives from 500,000 to 1.5 million per month in response to this demand and the company had seen its market share expand as a result, he said.

During the final three months of 2004 the company shipped 4.2 million 2.5-inch drives, a 27 per cent increase on the previous quarter and 88 per cent increase on the fourth quarter of a year earlier, Hagberg said.

As a result Fujitsu estimates it is now the number two manufacturer of 2.5-inch drives.

In the enterprise 3.5-inch disk market the company shipped 1.4 million units, up 13 per cent on the same quarter a year earlier, he said.

On Fujitsu's plans for smaller form-factor drives, Hagberg confirmed that research was underway but said no decisions had been made regarding entry into the market for 1.8-inch or 1.0-inch drives.

"Growth is expected to be significant [in this part of the market] over the next few years," he said. "We are working on this in the labs."

Such drives are used in portable media players, such as Apple's iPod and many of its competitors.

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Martyn Williams

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