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Toshiba is latest to claim perpendicular HDD first

Just in time for the fifth-generation iPod

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Toshiba has begun shipping what it claims is the world's first perpendicular hard disk drive.

The 1.8in unit is pitched at consumer electronics products - think iPod and Toshiba's own Gigabeat player - and provides 40GB of storage on a single platter, the largest single-platter capacity yet achieved on a 1.8in drive, Toshiba claimed.

Toshiba's non-perpendicular 40GB, 1.8in HDD, the MK4006GAH, requires two platters to achieve the same storage capacity as the one-platter MK4007GAL. The GAL is 5mm thick and weighs 51g, compared to the GAH's 8mm thickness and 62g weight.

That will allow the likes of Apple to offer either slimmer, lighter music players or use the space freed up by the slimmer HDD to increase the size and capacity of the battery. Apple already uses Toshiba's 1.8in HDD family in the iPod.

Toshiba said it expects to introduce a two-platter, 80GB version later this year. Both drives spin at 4200rpmm, provide a parallel ATA-100 interface and offer a 15ms average seek time.

Perpendicular recording increases disk capacity by aligning the millions of magnetic domains at 90° to the disk's surface rather than parallel to it. The upshot is a data density of 206Mb per square millimetre, Toshiba claimed.

However, its claim to be the "first company in the storage industry to commercialise" perpendicular recording is likely to be questioned by a rival HDD maker.

Last month, Japan's Showa Denko KK (SDK) said it has become the first manufacturer in the world to put a perpendicular hard drive into mass production - also a 40GB, 1.8in model.

Indeed, Toshiba comes to the market later than planned. When it announced the 40GB and 80GB perpendicular drives back in December 2004, the products were scheduled to enter mass production in calendar Q2 and Q3, respectively.

Almost all other HDD manufacturers are pursuing perpendicular technology as the next stage in the evolution of magnetic storage. Seagate, for one, is expected to release a 2.5in, 160GB perpendicular HDD for notebooks in Q4. ®

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