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Japan's IO Data will this month ship the first removable hard drive based on the Information Versatile Disk for Removable (IVDR) specification.

IVDR is a cartridge-based format that encapsulates a standard hard drive and interconnect electronics, designed as a way of making it easier to transfer very large files not only between computers but between in-car entertianment systems, hi-fis and TVs. The format was also intended to be capable of sustaining its own life as storage capacities and data transfer speeds increase, and disk sizes decrease.

IO Data IVDR AdaptorThe cartridge slots into an adaptor that hooks up to the host via a USB 2.0 port, from which it draws its power. The device will work across a USB 1.1 bus, but you'll need to use the bundled AC power adaptor, IO Data said.

IO Data's version provides 20GB of unformatted storage capacity, courtesy of a 1.8in hard drive. The 70.9g, 8 x 6.7cm cartridge is about the same size as a MiniDisc. The 120g adaptor it's slotted into measures 13.5 x 8.8 x 2.2cm.

IO Data IVDR diskIO Data said it will support Windows XP, 2k, Me and 98SE, along with Mac OS 9 and X. The adaptor and disk together cost ¥34,000 ($323), IO Data said, with disks along retailing for around ¥24,000 ($229).

IVDR was formulated by 38 companies, led by Japanese giants Fujitsu, Pioneer, Hitachi, Sanyo, Sharp and JVC, but backed by storage specialists like LaCie, Seagate and Maxtor. Originally touted with 2.5in drives, last year the group showed the IVDR Mini, based on 1.8in drives. This week, the consortium announced it would incorporate 1in drives in the specification, a format dubbed IVDR Micro.

The group also announced this week IVDR Secure, an encryption system intended to protect content stored on the drive, thus paving the way for legally downloaded material to be archived on IVDR disks and even for the Micro format to be used as a sales medium. ®

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