Samsung, Toshiba Go Big with New Disk Drives

Both companies have introduced mega-size disk drives, with Samsung targeting desktop and servers and Toshiba eyeing the laptop/notebook market.

Samsung and Toshiba on June 5 introduced their largest storage disk drives yet—Samsung with two new 400GB desktop/server drives and Toshiba with a 200GB drive for laptops and notebooks.

Samsungs SpinPoint T133 series disk drives are aimed at small businesses and the home user market.

"Utilizing 133GB per-platter technology, these best-of-breed [drives] open up a new arena for Samsungs storage products from the enterprise to external storage to NAS applications," said Albert Kim, Samsungs national sales manager of storage systems.

The SpinPoint T133 drives, including the parallel ATA HD400LD and the Serial ATA with 3.0G bps HD400LJ, features serial ATA technology with 3.0G bps I/O transaction capabilities, Serial ATA Native Command Queuing, Device Initiated SATA Power Management, Staggered Spin-up Support and an optional ATA Streaming Feature Set.

Both drives feature high-speed dual DSP (digital signal processor), ATA S.M.A.R.T. compliance, ATA Automatic Acoustic Management and ATA Streaming.

Both are equipped with a 7200 rpm spindle speed, an 8.9 millisecond average seek time and an optional 16MB cache buffer.

Both drives are currently shipping at a retail price of $195.

Toshibas dual-platter MK2035GSS drive is the companys first PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) drive to incorporate TMR (tunnel magneto-resistive recording) head technology, a company spokesman said. The 2.5-inch HDD weighs in at a mere 98 grams.

Toshibas second-generation PMR features high areal density at 178.8G bits per square inch and the highest capacity in the standard 9.5mm mobile PC format, the spokesman said.

"Our technology innovation in PMR ... is a win-win combination for mobile PC manufacturers who want to differentiate their offerings with features that attract high-end consumers," said Scott MacCabe, vice president and general manager, Toshiba SDD.

Mobile PC manufacturers can use the 200GB HDD to provide enough capacity for gaming, video, music and other multimedia applications, MacCabe added.

Toshiba will start mass production for the new drive in August 2006. No pricing information was available.

Disk drive storage analyst David Hill of Mesabi Group in Westwood, Mass. told eWEEK via e-mail that "the two-dimensional flatland of disk areal density continues to grow dramatically."

Hill noted that more data can be stored in the same size disk drive form factor and that for the same number of two-dimensional disk platters the three-dimensional volume of the disk drive itself stays the same.

"That means that for a consumer device, such as a digital video recorder, no re-engineering has to take place to house more capacity and the price stays roughly the same," Hill said.

/zimages/2/28571.gifReport: Disk storage market sees a jump in revenues. Click here to read more.

Alternatively, Hill said, for portable consumer devices or computers, it may be possible to shrink the larger device to give the same storage that you had before, but in a smaller consumer or computer form factor.

"The laws of physics can never be broken, but innovative engineering can circumvent them for awhile," Hill said.

"The move to perpendicular magnetic recording—of which the Toshiba 2.5. HDD product is an example—has once again delayed the inevitable."

Brian Babineau of Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., agreed that drive manufacturers will continue to increase capacity with new techniques like perpendicular recording.

"However, no one wants a laptop with a five-pound disk drive or one that can heat a 2,000 square foot house," Babineau said. "I expect that the drive vendors will continue to innovate around this balance and utilize flash memory, etc., to also solve some issues."

Hill also thinks innovation in how much data can be squeezed onto a disk or tape will continue.

"Who knows?" Hill said. "Just when the next physical limit on areal density seems to be reached, disk drive engineers may engineer yet another escape.

"The sky may not be the limit, but just how high disk drive density can go may be higher than anyone anticipates."

/zimages/2/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...