IBM to ship 4GB microdrive

Big Blue unveils tiny hard drive made by Hitachi, targeting laptop users.

IBM plans to make a beefed-up tiny hard drive available later this month, targeting laptop users.

The company's 4GB "Microdrive" is slated to be available Feb. 20, according to Big Blue's Web site. The removable drive, which is the size of a matchbook, carries the IBM brand but is made by Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, Hitachi spokeswoman Kim Nguyen said Wednesday.

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies took over IBM's hard drive business last year. Last year, IBM sold a branded 1GB Microdrive also made by Hitachi, Nguyen said.

Small drives have become increasingly important in the consumer electronics arena, with the potential to handle the data storage needs of devices such as digital music players and cameras.

IBM's Web site emphasizes the 4GB drive's possible use with notebook computers: "Take advantage of the latest removable disk drive technology by adding the IBM 4 GB Microdrive to your ThinkPad notebook," the site says. "This new Microdrive weighs less than a AA battery, has a footprint measuring less than one square inch, and can hold almost 2,800 times more data or images than a diskette."

IBM is selling the Microdrive with a PC Card adapter priced at $499.

The Microdrive product also is designed to the Compact Flash Type II industry standard, and can work with a number of digital cameras, Nguyen said.

Hitachi has priced its branded version of the 4GB Microdrive at $499.

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