IBM Doubles Mobile Drive Capacity

New Travelstar will have 80GB capacity and spin at up to 7,200 rpm.

IBM has doubled the capacity of its mobile hard drives and is planning faster spin speeds, officials said Wednesday.

The new Travelstar 80GN, holding up to 80GB of data, accomplishes its size by using a third layer of magnetic material and a second layer of the chemical ruthenium. The drive will be generally available early next year and initially will spin at 4,200 revolutions per minute.

A 5,400-rpm version called the GNX and an as-yet unnamed 7,200-rpm version are also due next year, said Bill Healy, vice president of mobile storage, in San Jose, Calif. IBM will soon rename the entire series, he said.

The new drives are primarily for laptop computers and could also be used for embedded devices, such as digital video recorders, he said.

"Over the last 20 years, the technologists have been saying, Oh, well probably hit the limit in five years. Theres enough in the landscape to go another 10 years," said Jim Porter, analyst and president of Disk/Trend Inc., in Mountain View, Calif.

The upcoming 5,400- and 7,200-rpm drives are for high-end laptops; IBM hasnt yet stated their effect on battery life, Porter noted. "This is not for your masses," he said.

Prices for the Travelstar GN drives are $158 for 20GB, $224 for 40GB and $420 for 80GB, Healy said. IBMs drive business is still functioning separately from Hitachis because the division merger hasnt been completed yet, he added.

IBM first used the chemical ruthenium in the spring of 2001, with the marketing name "Pixie Dust."