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Hitachi outlines 2.5-inch HDD plan

Posted: 18 Dec 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:hard disk drive? HDD? drives? Hitachi? perpendicular magnetic recording?

Thomas believes CE will define HDD's future

In a bid to maintain its leadership in the 2.5-inch HDD segment, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (GST) will unveil next year its 200Gbyte and quarter-terabyte products.

The company's 2007 road map for 2.5-inch drives will capitalize on the twofold growth in shipments projected by market research firm IDC. Volume shipments of 2.5-inch drives, according to IDC, will double in 2010 to 224 million units from this year's 118 million units.

"Our goal is to grow faster than the market," said Dirk Thomas, VP of Hitachi GST and president, Greater China, in an interview with EE Times-Asia.

Playing a significant role in the pursuit of this goal are the company's Asian facilities. At present, Hitachi manufactures its 2.5-inch drives at its Thailand facility. Its first generation of perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) drives, the Travelstar 5K160, was assembled in Thailand. Meanwhile, Shenzhen produces the PMR media that go into the drives. Plans call for an increase in output at these two sites. Thomas also anticipates more product launches from its Asian facilities.

The Hitachi official revealed that to date, the company has invested $200 million and $500 million in its Thailand and Shenzhen facilities, respectively.

While it has no immediate R&D plans in China, Hitachi is boosting its manufacturing capabilities by sending its engineers in Shenzhen for skills training in Japan and in the United States, the company's research hubs.

Tech shift
Hitachi's adoption of PMR technology is a vital component of its HDD strategy. As opposed to conventional longitudinal recording, where magnetization of the bits is directed circumferentially along the track direction, perpendicular recording has the magnetic bits placed perpendicular to the disk surface.

Hitachi claims that the shift to PMR has helped it achieve high production volume. In November, the company delivered 1 million PMR drives after only six months of regular production. It hopes to produce 4 million PMR drives by the end of the year.

PMR drives account for roughly 35 percent of Hitachi's Q4 2.5-inch drive output. The company expects to fully transition its 2.5-inch product line to PMR by the end of 2007.

Meanwhile, Hitachi is targeting the consumer electronics sector for its Travelstar 200Gbyte, 7200rpm drive that is scheduled for release in 1H of 2007, and for the quarter-terabyte, 5,400rpm drive that will be available in 2H. "Consumer electronics will define the hard-drive industry's future," Thomas pointed out. Products like laptops and digital camcorders will drive the demand for 2.5-inch drives.

Moreover, the company's upcoming 2.5-inch products will feature hard-drive-level encrypted security and hybrid storage, which combines flash with the rotating disk media. The security solution will use Advanced Encryption Standard algorithm technology. The hybrid storage will be offered as an option for the 2.5-inch drives set for release next year. Key benefits of a hybrid storage solution, particularly for mobile products, include longer battery life, faster boot-up and recovery from hibernation.

- Anna Valmero
Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

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