Toshiba to double 1.8-inch HDD production

Toshiba plans to double production of its PC Card-size 1.8-inch hard disk drive and is considering entering the market for 1-inch drives, it said Tuesday, citing strong demand for the small drives from makers of portable digital electronics devices.

"Most of the demand comes from the mobile audio players and mini-type personal computers," said Midori Suzuki, a spokeswoman for Toshiba in Tokyo.

As a result the Tokyo company, which recently shipped its 3-millionth 1.8-inch drive, is planning to raise monthly production to 600,000 units per month by March 2004. The drive, which is small enough to be fitted into a PC Card form factor, is used in Apple Computer's iPod in addition to other devices.

Additionally, Toshiba said it is also considering production of 1-inch drives. Such drives are small enough to be encased in a CompactFlash card form factor. That market is currently dominated by the Microdrive, which is produced by Hitachi after it purchased IBM's disk drive business earlier this year, although there are several other competitors.

Toshiba currently produces versions of the 1.8-inch drive in 5G-byte, 10G-byte, 15G-byte, 20G-byte, 30G-byte and 40G-byte capacities and sees more demand at the higher end although believes lower capacity products are still attracting some attention because of their lower cost, she said.

Much of the extra production will be outsourced with the majority going to Matsushita Kotobuki Electronics Industries Ltd. (MKE). The company is a unit of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., better known by its Panasonic brand name, and began manufacturing drives for Toshiba at its factory in Indonesia earlier this year.

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