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IBM readies Flash-beating hard disk

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IBM is set to take the wraps off the world's smallest disk drive. Dubbed the Microdrive, the tiny unit, which weighs less than a single Walkman battery, will have a capacity of 340MB. Due to ship in the middle of next year, the drive will be aimed at highly-portable products like digital cameras and electronic organisers as an alternative to Flash memory. The drive, while not yet up to the capacity demanded by portable PC users, could nevertheless also find a role as a back-up medium. Flash, while commonplace, remains a slow and expensive technology. Indeed, it the cost of Flash storage that many analysts blame for the low capacity of current digital cameras, a problem that is holding back the market for these devices. IBM said that the Microdrive will be compatible with products that currently use Flash memory. Canon, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi and Minolta are considering using the Microdrive in future products, IBM added. ®

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