A hard drive smaller than an inch

Toshiba aims HD at phones, cameras

CES With solid state memory reaching the gigabyte base line, Toshiba has unveiled a tiny hard disk that's smaller than an inch. The 0.8 inch hard drive - that's about the width and thickness of an MMC or SD card - will come in 2GB and 4GB sizes, spins at 3600 rpm, and will ship in volume this Fall.

Who'll want one? It isn't just cost, but power requirements that will see the device pitched at the high end of the handheld market. Toshiba's 1.8 inch drive provides the storage for Apple's iPod, and executives said that its ultra-small minidrives will be pitched at MP3 players, video cameras and high end smartphones. Hard drives will always suffer a power penalty compared to solid state memory.

In another announcement that opens the door to future phones being media storage devices, Cornice has announced what it describes as a "Storage Element" - essentially a hard disk but without an ATA interface or cache - for $70 in large quantities. OEMs will need to source their own ATA controller chips. The tiny drive measures only 5mm by 4.2cm x 3.6cm. It's a small world. ®