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Hitachi to add flash, encryption to 2.5-inch HDDs

Posted: 10 Nov 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Hitachi Global Storage Technologies? flash memory? Hitachi? hard disk drive? hard disk drives?

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies will push capacity to 200Gbytes and beyond while adding encryption and flash memory to its 2.5-inch hard disk drives (HDDs) in 2007, the company announced recently.

Hitachi GST said it will launch two new 2.5-inch drives in 2007, a 200Gbyte model with media rotating at 7,200rpms for fast access speed. It will also ship a 250+ Gbyte model with the more mainstream 5,400rpm rotation speed. The drives are the company's second generation to use perpendicular recording.

The 7,200rpm drives could double in unit shipments this year, hitting as much as one million units a quarter industry wide by 2007, said Larry Swezey, director of mobile product strategy and marketing for Hitachi GST. By contrast, drive makers sell as many as 30 million units a quarter of the 5,400rpm drives.

The company will offer hardware encryption and embedded flash memory as an option on all its 2.5-inch drives starting in 2007. Hitachi GST is adopting Microsoft's hybrid hard drive approach used in Windows Vista.

The company will put at least 256Mbytes flash on the hybrid drives. Vista uses the memory as cache to speed boot and access times and save battery life by decreasing the amount of time drives must spin up their disks.

Hitachi will not decide exactly how much flash it will embedded in the hybrid drives or how much it will cost until a final version of Vista ships later this year. Initially it will use flash chips from Renesas Technology Corp., its joint venture with Mitsubishi. Other drive makers including Samsung and Seagate Technology are also supplying the hybrid drives.

Separately, Hitachi GST is integrating AES encryption hardware in the controllers for all its drives starting in 2007. The feature will be turned on at the factory if requested as an option. The move is an alternative to using encryption software on the PC.

Rapidly falling prices and rising capacity for flash memory have made it a preferred vehicle for mass market products like cellphones and low-end MP3 players. Cellphone companies "haven't figured out the business model or the technology for sending large files over their networks," to drive hard disk demand, Swezey said.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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