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Hitachi Revving 300 Gigabyte Hard Drive

UPDATE: Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST) Wednesday unveiled the first 300 gigabyte hard disk drive for storing enterprise-level data, a move that increases the stakes for competitors in the server hardware sector.

The Ultrastar 10K300 is also the first completely unified product the San Jose, Calif., company put out since it merged with IBM's hard disk drive business unit in April 2002.

Doug Pickford, director of server market and product strategy at Hitachi GST, said the new machines will serve data-intensive applications such as those for enterprise resource planning, (ERP) supply chain management (SCM) or online transaction processing.

Pickford told internetnews.com the 3.5-inch drives have already begun shipping and are in the process of being qualified at major original equipment manufacturers who make servers.

A product such as the 10K300 could prove to be very attractive to systems vendors such as IBM, HP and Dell, which are looking to boost performance as they deliver storage improvements to their customers.

A 300 GB drive would be one way of adding value, with Hitachi looking for first-mover status in the market amid tough competition from Seagate, Fujitsu and Maxtor.

Jim Porter, president of research firm Disk/Trend, said what Hitachi GST has done since merging with IBM's HDD unit is impressive because the IBM unit had been struggling in the latter 1990s due to poor organization and management.

Once Hitachi took over more strict management took the helm and Porter said the business has been gaining market share. Bringing a 300 GB machine to market will help, he said.

"This is a good showing by Hitachi GST to catch up with the loss of market share to competitors such as Seagate that goes back five years," Porter told internetnews.com.

Porter also noted that while Maxtor takes the credit as the first bearer of a 300 GB drive, it was geared for less intensive, mid-range applications and only revved to 5,400 revolutions per minute.

The new Hitachi drives, available in Ultra 320 SCSI and 2Gb per second Fibre Channel interfaces rev to 10,025 rpms.

The drives will use Fluid Dynamic Bearing motors to provide a low acoustic rating and improved data integrity, company officials said.

Pickford said the greatest challenge in creating a 300 Gb hard drive is making sure performance and availability are not sacrificed as engineers attempt to pack more technology bits into a standard 3.5-inch drive.

To do this, he said engineers must make some concessions regarding areal density, or the amount of data that can be stored on a hard disk platter.

Ultimately, he said the 10K300 packs an unprecedented 61 billion bits per square inch maximum areal density.