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Head shop rolls out disk size roadmap

TDK sees the future

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By January 2010 we should be seeing 620GB 2.5-inch and 2.5TB 3.5-inch hard disk drives, according to head manufacturer TDK Corporation.

A presentation to financial analysts, including Stifel Nicolaus' Aaron Rakers, contained a roadmap for hard disk drive (HDD) read/write heads which TDK manufactures for some HDD suppliers. The current highest density read/write heads it is mass producing are for 250GB/platter 2.5-inch or small form factor (SFF) drives and for 500GB/platter 3.5-inch disk drives.

The roadmap shows a jump to 320GB/platter 2.5-inch drive read heads with such heads in qualification with HDD suppliers now, mass production starting this month and full mass production by December this year. That means we should see HDD suppliers announcing 640GB 2-platter SFF drive products by the end of the year - Seagate already has with its 640GB Free Agent Go - and, if they wish, 960GB 3-platter products, darn near a terabyte. Initial products may rotate at 5400rpm with later ones increasing their spin speed to 7200rpm as the head and media technologies get better and permit the faster rotation.

Turning to desktop drives, TDK is making heads for 500GB/platter drives now and has 640GB/platter heads currently in qualification by its OEMs. It sees a slightly later but faster ramp to mass production, starting in November this year and complete by the end of January, 2010.

The implication is that HDD manufacturers could announce 2.5TB, 4-platter, 3.5-inch capacity drives, SATA interface ones probably, as early as February next year, with possible 3.2TB, 5-platter models as well if they want to hit the 3TB drive mark.

The 2TB mark had been reached by Seagate and WD in April this year.

The TDK areal density increases here are 28 per cent for 3.5-inch drives and 24 per cent for 2.5-inch drives. Naturally, a 24-28 per cent increase in the areal density the heads can read and write means a 24-28 per cent increase in the areal density of the disk platters, based on another iteration of perpendicular magnetic recording technology.

That means that all current disk drive products should or could have an approximate 25 per cent jump in capacity as this new PMP media technology spreads across the various SAS, SATA and Fibre Channel HDD product lines. That could happen in the first half of 2010 as we see a mass density refresh spreading across the HDD industry. ®

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