The Future

By Mark Hachman  |  Posted 2003-09-15 Print this article Print

: Consumer Electronics"> Perhaps the weakest segment of the industry will be in the corporate desktop space, as IT managers have realized that local users are only storing relatively small, Office-type documents on their desktop PCs. Video files and larger collaborative designs generally are shared via a server. That means that the consumer market is driving desktop storage, which was unheard of two years ago, according to Stephen diFranco, vice president of corporate marketing at Maxtor. Eighty-GA-per-platter models will ramp through the end of 2003, with 120GB- and 160GB-per-platter models already in development for 2004, according to Trend/Focus Donovan.
With the rise of Napster, consumers began filling their hard drives with music. Now, graphics cards such as ATIs All-In-Wonder allow PC users to add video as well, recording shows like dedicated boxes from TiVO and Replay TV do as well. By 2007, consumer electronics will make up 18 percent of all hard drive dollar sales, according to IDC, just a percentage point less than enterprise storage.
"You might wonder why I chose to focus on consumer examples," said Jun Naruse, president and chief executive of Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, in a DiskCON keynote speech. "After all, our industry is most often associated with the IT world. "I believe, though, that the consumer world represents a new and exciting opportunity, one with the potential to change our entire industry landscape," Naruse added. "Our own projections suggest that growth in consumer electronics will exceed traditional IT. It is an easy idea to believe. Todays consumer-electronics superstores are filled with devices to satisfy customer appetites." Today, a typical personal video recorder or set-top box will contain an 80GB hard drive, enough to store 50 hours of content using three streams of data: one to record or play back video, another to simultaneously record a second channel of video, and a third to provide content data. In the future, set-top box designers and drive markers will need to support 320GB of video, including support for 17MB per second of HDTV content and seven simultaneous streams of data, according to Ken Morse, vice president of client architecture for PowerTV Inc., a division of set-top maker Scientific-Atlanta. Game consoles and audio players are also shifting to hard drives. The Microsoft Xbox represents an installed base of 12 million hard drives, and Sony has announced plans to develop an enhanced PlayStation with an internal hard drive. But while consumer demand for storage is increasing, drive makers are finding additional capacity increases slow going. In the early 1990s, the areal density of a typical disk drive grew on the order of 60 percent a year, increasing to 100 percent in the latter part of the decade. Now, the industry is recognizing that the industry will have to develop more research-intensive methods to improve capacity, a trend with technological as well as business applications. "The difference used to be so steep that if you were even a little bit higher on the [areal-density] curve the difference would be so high that youd kill him," said John Best, chief technologist for HGST. "Now, were slowing down. Shrinks dont work any more." Hitachi and others developed "pixie dust" as a means of improving the areal density, and the next revolution will be in the use of perpendicular recording, where the magnetic bits are aligned vertically to squeeze more density out of the disk platter. Perpendicular recording will start to become commercialized in 2005, Best said.


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