Fujitsu begins 100GB notebook hard drive production

Fujitsu has developed a 100GB hard-disk drive suitable for use in notebook computers and has begun mass production of the drive.

The Tokyo company started making the drive in late March this year and its entire initial output had been snapped up by notebook makers, vice-president of marketing at Fujitsu, Joel Hagberg, said.

Now the company was beginning to accept orders from more notebook makers and so it was announcing the development of the drive, he said. "We launched in late March and early April with some major notebook makers," he said. "In June, we are opening the doors up to other customers. Any notebook shipping with a 100GB hard disk has a Fujitsu drive."

Dell and HP both offer a 100GB hard disk drive as an option to buyers of their notebook computers.

The MHU2100AT drive has a 4200 rpm (revolutions per minute) rotational speed and comes with a parallel ATA interface, Hagberg said.

Several of Fujitsu's competitors have also announced development of 100GB drives and plan to ship them in the second half of this year.

Toshiba said in April that it plans to ship a 4200 rpm drive in the third quarter and last week Seagate Technology announced two 100GB 2.5-inch drives as part of a new line-up of products.

Seagate was planning to introduce a 5400 rpm drive during the third quarter and a 7200 rpm drive during the fourth quarter, it said.

Development of the higher capacity drives comes as the notebook computer share of the US retail personal computer market has grown. For the week ending May 29, notebook sales accounted for 56 per cent of the entire US personal computer market, according to figures from Current Analysis.

This was the first time that notebook sales had been higher than those for desktop PCs, a senior analyst, Sam Bhavnani, said. Furthermore, the company expected notebook sales to surpass those of desktop PCs in the US retail market for the 2005 calendar year.

Higher demand for the drives from notebook PC vendors and companies making consumer electronics devices has pushed drive makers to expand their production capacity.

Fujitsu increased automation at its factory in Thailand to enable it to increase production and that in turn helped it grab a larger slice of the 2.5-inch drive market in the first quarter of this year as compared to the fourth quarter of last year, Hagberg said.

It was the third largest manufacturer of 2.5-inch hard disk drives for the mobile market in the first quarter of this year, according to figures cited by Hagberg from market research company, Gartner.

It had an 18.5-per cent share of the 13.7 million-drive market behind Toshiba (29.6 per cent) and Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (44.7 per cent), according to Gartner. That represents an increase in shipments of about 300,000 drives over the fourth quarter of 2003, when Fujitsu had a 15.0 per cent share of a 14.7 million-drive market, according to the figures.

Looking at the current quarter and ahead, Hagberg said the company had been hit by some softness in the market for 2.5-inch hard disk drives. Other hard-disk drive makers had also reported similar conditions which Hagberg said were causede by oversupply and seasonal factors.

Fujitsu is planning to expand its market share in the coming months by concentrating on Serial ATA (SATA) hard disk drives. The company claimed to be the only company capable of supplying a 2.5-inch hard disk drive with a SATA interface at present and two notebook makers were currently looking at launching notebooks using the drive, Hagberg said.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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