Just a month after announcing that the company would ship 2.5-inch drives for the enterprise market, Seagate Technologies said Monday that it would reenter the mobile hard drive market.
Seagate, the worlds largest drive maker, is already shipping its "Momentus" line of 2.5-inch hard drives to notebook customers, according to Mark Walker, a product marketing manager for Seagate. Although no OEM has formally signed on to using the drives, the company is in qualification with Acer and Hewlett-Packard, among others, Seagate officials said.
Although Seagates announcement to reenter the 2.5-inch disk drive market comes a month after the company announced its intention to develop a line of 2.5-inch drives for the enterprise market, Walker said the two decisions were made independently of one another. Seagate stopped producing its Marathon mobile drives in 1998.
"We actually dont feel that theres any more perfect of a time to get into the notebook market than now," Walker said.
Seagates advantage, according to Walker, is its "independent" status. Fujitsu and Hitachi, among others, are "captive" drive makers, who also sell their products to other divisions within the company. Although Maxtor is also an independent supplier, the company does not currently sell 2.5-inch drives.
The Momentus drives will be offered in both 20- and 40-Gbyte capacities, at 5,400-RPM speeds. The 2.4 watts both drives consume while seeking data put the Momentus in the same class as 4,200-RPM drives, Walker said. The drives consume just under a watt when idling, and 0.36W when on standby.
However, the drives can be tailored further for performance; Seagate will offer a special version with 8 Mbytes of cache. Normally, the drives contain 2 Mbytes of cache.
Seagates drives also hope to eliminate the small but worrying "click" when a notebooks drive drops into idle mode, At that time, the drives head moves off of the disk platter, in much the same way a phonograph needle moves back to its resting place. Clicking noises, such as those associated with the legendary "click of death" afflicting old Iomega Zip drives, have often warned of impending failures.
"A lot of users associate something wrong with that clicking noise," Walker said.
The Momentus drives use a quiet load/unload feature, which eliminates the click. While objective acoustic power can be measured in decibels, the subjective "loudness" of a sound was generalized into the "sone", measuring how a listener perceived the loudness of tones at different frequencies. Technically, one sone equals a 1-khz tone at 40 dB SPL (Sound Pressure Level). A typical clock might tick at 1.3 sones, Walker said; while a normal disk drive might produce a 1.7-sone tick. The Momentus drives produce a 1.0-sone tick, below the level of audibility, Walker said.
The Momentus drives are shipping now to OEMs, Walker said. The company did not disclose the drives pricing.