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IBM boosts hard drives for notebooks

IBM flexes its muscles as a component supplier by announcing a hard drive for portable computers that has the largest data capacity yet.

IBM is flexing its muscle as a component supplier by announcing a hard drive for portable computers that has the largest data capacity yet.

IBM said today that it has started shipping a 25GB hard drive for notebook PCs, the largest to date. IBM is delivering the drive in limited quantities to Dell Computer and Compaq.

Under the aegis of its technology group, IBM has accelerated its push this year to establish itself as a major supplier of components to computer makers. IBM is one of the world's largest manufacturers of hard drives, liquid crystal displays, and semiconductors.

IBM also said today that it has started to deliver an 18GB drive. Typically, the largest hard drive in most notebook PCs is about 14GB. This matches Fujitsu, which has begun shipping a drive with 18GB of data capacity.

High-capacity drives enable the storage of large music, video, and multimedia files on a computer. For example, the IBM drive can hold about 20 TV-quality movies, the company said.

Dell is already taking orders for these IBM "Travelstar" brand drives, and volume shipments will begin from IBM in September.

"This technology offers...storage capacity of up to 50GB in a notebook form factor," said Erik Stannow, director of product marketing at Compaq's portable computer division, in a statement. Notebook PC makers can potentially use two of the drives in laptops to achieve 50GB of capacity.

IBM said the drive can operate at 5,400 revolutions per minute, making it faster than previous products.

In addition, IBM is shipping a 12GB model for ultra-portables and billing it as a "rugged" hard drive that has less chance of being damaged if dropped or bumped. Hard drive for ultraportable notebook PCs today top out at 6.4GB typically. Ultraportable notebooks usually weigh less than four pounds.