Seagate Technology said it was shipping a new line of hard drives optimized for the consumer electronics market.
Seagates new "CE" 3.5-inch hard drive line incorporates improved video streaming capabilities, which a Seagate company spokesman said are being implemented in the ATA-7 specification, currently under development at the storage industrys interface standards body, T13.org.
Seagate said the new drives, which include up to 160-Gbytes of total capacity, are being shipped to eight consumer electronics manufacturers: Toshiba, Thomson, Sony, Pioneer, Pace, Nokia, Motorola and Echostar. Most set-top boxes now include the option of recording and playing back recorded video from a hard drive, adding the functionality once reserved for specialized products from Tivo and ReplayTV.
While the new drives share common components with Seagates line of PC drives, the CE line has been optimized to play back and record several streams of video at once.
A typical personal-video-recorder (PVR) is designed to handle three streams of data: one to watch a recorded program, another to record a separate program, and a third data channel to provide additional information, according to Seagate spokesman John Paulsen. Seagates CE drives transfer an average of 48 Mbytes/s enough for eight 2.5-Mbyte/s streams of standard television or four high-definition streams of 5 Mbytes/s each.
"Hard drives that are better for a streaming environment are going to have different performance characteristics than drives for PCs, such as ensuring a number of streams back and forth across the drive," Paulsen said. "Theyre not going to have the things PCs have, such as the multiple checks on each bit of data that is written or erased. A CE drive doesnt need or want to pause to have every bit of data checked; you dont want to pause the stream, you can accept an error here or there as long as you move on and keep streaming."
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