Consumer Electronics Show: Seagate to launch Compact Flash form-factor hard-disk

Seagate Technologies LLC will begin offering a Compact Flash (CF) card form-factor hard-disk drive from February this year, the company said at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, on Tuesday.

The product, which will be officially launched at the show on Wednesday, will offer a 5G-byte storage capacity and be targeted at applications such as digital photography, said Rob Pait, director of global consumer electronics marketing for Seagate in an interview. A 2.5G-byte version will also be available, the company said.

Seagate's new drive will increase competition in an already competitive sector of the hard-disk drive market. For several years Hitachi Global Storage Technologies Inc.'s (HGST) Microdrive has dominated the space but that position is already under pressure from companies like China's GS Magicstor Inc. and increasingly cheaper and capacious flash memory cards.

No pricing for the Seagate drive was immediately available but it will hold a capacity advantage over HGST and GS Magicstor, which offer drives at capacities up to about 4G bytes. That lead might not last for long, however. Also at CES on Tuesday, HGST showed engineering prototypes of a new 1-inch drive it hopes to launch later this year that will have a capacity of somewhere between 8G bytes and 10G bytes, the company said.

Seagate began producing 1-inch hard-disk drives in 2004 and has until now focused solely on providing them to other electronics makers. Olympus Corp., one such customer, is using CES to launch its m:robe MR-100 digital music player in the North American market. Because those products were designed for use with the drives they didn't need a standard CF interface and instead used a smaller and thinner ribbon cable as a connector.

The path Seagate is taking is in contrast to HGST, which until now has sold its 1-inch drive in a CF Card form-factor. HGST is using CES to launch a new version of its drive with a simplified ZIF (zero insertion force) connector for embedding in portable multimedia devices.

Also at CES, Seagate will launch a new version of its USB (Universal Serial Bus) portable hard-disk drive. The new model will offer a 10G-byte capacity and otherwise will be similar to the company's current 40G-byte product, said Pait.

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