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IBM pushes hard drive envelope with 37GB

Big Blue demonstrates a huge 37-gigabyte drive for desktop computers and a tiny, matchbook-sized drive for handheld devices.

IBM demonstrated today that it remains at the cutting edge of both ends of the hard drive spectrum by releasing a huge 37-gigabyte drive for desktop computers and a tiny, matchbook-sized drive for handheld devices.

The 37GB drive is one of the highest capacity drives to date, offering about twice the data storage found today on high-end consumer PCs.

The drive is estimated to have a street price of $420. A drive this size can hold hundreds of music CDs, allowing the PC to server as digital jukebox, said Greg Puhalla, director of IBM's Desktop PC Hard Disk Drive business. Using another metric, it can hold almost 8 hours of full-motion, high-resolution video.

PC makers such as Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, and Gateway have already signed up to use the "Deskstar 37GP" drive, Puhalla said.

Hard drives are a critical part of IBM's computer parts business. IBM expects the drive to be used in PCs that sell for as little as $1,000 as well as PC servers which cost more than $2,000. The drive will also be made available to distributors for sale as a stand-alone upgrade for PCs.

IBM also said that it has begun limited shipments of its Microdrive. This matchbook-sized hard drive fits into a small slot in a handheld Windows CE device or a digital camera. For example, IBM's z50 Windows CE handheld PC can use this drive and camera makers have released products that can use the drive.

The drive offers data capacities up to 340MB. Though IBM has shown the drive at conferences since last year, this is the first time it has announced shipments.

IBM also announced customers for its Microdrive including Casio, Compaq, the RioPort division of Diamond Multimedia, Kodak, Hitachi, and Nikon.

"Launching the microdrive is a strategic next step in the growth of IBM's Original Equipment Manufacturer technology business," IBM said in a statement.

The retail price of the Microdrive kit, which includes the 340 MB drive, PC Card adapter and case, is $499. The IBM Microdrives will be available in Japan and the U.S. in retail stores by early summer.

Upcoming Rio digital audio devices supporting the drive will provide users with high-capacity MP3 storage, said David Watkins, president of the RioPort Division at Diamond Multimedia in a statement. The IBM microdrive will allow future Rio customers to store several hours of CD-quality music or hundreds of hours of spoken audio, he said.

IBM also announced a 34GB Deskstar 34GXP desktop drive, in addition to the 37GB drive. Both the 34GB and 37GB drives come with tools for diagnosing and troubleshooting.