Tiny Hard Drives Coming to Cell Phones

Tiny hard drives are expected to expand storage in cell phones to as much as 2GB by next year.

As manufacturers cram many more features into cell phones, theres one glaring problem: storage capacity. So hard drive makers are looking to spin up tiny drives for wireless handsets.

"Beyond one gigabyte, a hard drive can deliver more storage at lower cost than flash memory," says John Harris, strategic marketing manager for storage-chip maker Agere Systems. A 1-inch, 2GB drive now costs about $50, he says.

Seagate recently announced a 1-inch offering, and Toshiba has an even smaller 0.8-inch drive-about the size of an SD card. Harris expects prices to continue dropping, and he predicts tiny hard drives will be the next big step for cell phones.

Putting hard drives in phones doesnt present a power consumption problem, say drive makers. Most quarter-size drives spin up quickly, dump information to a buffer, and then shut down to save power.

Cornice is working on putting hard drives into cell phones, and analysts expect to see 2GB handsets next year.

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