RealTime IT News

Hitachi Hatches Mini Drive For Consumer Devices

Hitachi's disk drive unit unveiled a 1.8-inch hard disk drive to satisfy consumers' needs for smaller hard drives that have enough juice to power MP3 players and personal digital assistants.

Anh Phan, director of business management at San Jose, Calif.-based Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, said Hitachi has forsaken notebook-based connectors for Zero Insertion Force (ZIF) connectors in its new Travelstar C4K60 series.

While standard notebook connectors typically feature 50 pins with a cable width of 48 millimeters, the ZIF connectors use a 22-mm flex cable and 40-pin configurations.

They are optimized for consumer electronics devices and help Hitachi, which competes with Seagate and Toshiba in the hard drive market, reduce the footprint of its new drive by 10 percent. They also allow easier integration through a common connector.

While a smaller size and fewer cables are necessary to cut down on the clumsiness of peripheral hardware, customers don't want to sacrifice storage space, which is why the C4K60 has an area density of 99.8 gigabits per square inch, making it possible for as many as 30 gigabytes of data to be stored on a single disk.

"This will help us focus better on the emerging consumer electronics market," Phan told internetnews.com. "For a long time HDD vendors focused on IT or the computer market, but for the last few years here, a lot more HDDs are being used in CE."

John Donovan, vice president of market research firm TrendFocus, said the C4K60 shows that Hitachi is serious about extending its tendrils in the CE market, which is expected to grow exponentially as people demand more storage for rich media applications.

"Because of its size, high storage capacity and shock specifications, the 1.8-inch hard drive segment is defining the use of hard drives in consumer electronic devices, where the balance between device size and high capacity is key," Donovan said in a statement.

Phan said the key is the ZIF connector, which allows the drive to talk to the host device through a flex cable and, therefore, gives manufacturers greater flexibility in mounting schemes.

For example, manufacturers could mount the Travelstar C4K60 in a floating scheme and implement dampening or insular materials around the drive for better shock protection.

Because many consumers are using HDDs for playing back digital music or video, noise quality is important. Therefore, the C4K60's sound emission at idle and seek operation are extremely low and undetectable by the human ear.

The Travelstar C4K60 series for consumer electronics operates at 4200 RPM and is available in 20GB and 30GB capacities for $125 and $160, respectively.