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Fujitsu mobile hard drive hits new high: 18GB

The company introduces the largest capacity hard drive for notebook computers ever, exceeding previous drives from rivals IBM and Hitachi.

Fujitsu today introduced the largest capacity hard drive for notebook computers ever, exceeding previous offerings from rivals IBM and Hitachi.

The new hard drives from Fujitsu offer up to 18GB of storage, the company says, while also achieving a new high in recording density. IBM and Hitachi also recently released record-setting mobile hard drives, but Fujitsu's 18GB drive tops the previous attempts.

Typical hard drives--the most common way of storing data on a computer--are in the neighborhood of 4 or 8GB.

The new hard drives appear during an increasingly optimistic time for notebook makers. Analysts predict that the shortage of liquid crystal displays, the type of monitor most often in notebooks today, will start to lift, which should mean more and cheaper notebooks in the future.

Intel, among others, is also boosting the speeds of notebook processors . In the end, very little difference will exist in terms of performance between desktop PCs and portables, say sources and executives.

Further, as with Fujitsu's new drive, components continue to get smaller and more powerful, resulting in smaller and more design-conscious portables.

Better recording density
Fujitsu expanded the total drive capacity by increasing the recording density of each drive. With its recording capacity of 9.3 gigabits per square inch, Fujitsu topped previous leader Hitachi's recording density of 6.3 gigabits per square inch.

The 18GB drive capacity is a direct result of these gains in recording density, said Jim Porter, editor of industry newsletter DiskTrend, noting that Fujitsu's new drive offers 50 percent higher recording density than its predecessors.

"It's a new landmark in taking technology and putting it into practice," he said.

Only four major mobile hard drive manufacturers exist: Fujitsu, IBM, Hitachi, and Toshiba. IBM currently leads the pack in terms of production, and until recently, drive capacity. Desktop hard drive manufacturers Seagate and Quantum recently dropped out of the market.

"Fujitsu is moving into the leadership position," Porter said. "It's the highest capacity, for the moment."

Because of their small size--less than half an inch thick--the new Fujitsu drives will primarily show up pre-loaded in notebook PCs, Porter said, rather than sold as add-ons in retail stores. Fujitsu will also market the drives to makers of global positioning systems for cars.

"Because Fujitsu recognizes the enormous growth potential in emerging markets, we are committed to providing durable, high-value drives that meet the rigid performance requirements of these challenging environments," said Keith Caldwell, director of mobile storage at Fujitsu, in a statement.

Fujitsu also introduced 6, 9, and 12GB drives today. The drives will be available in the third quarter of this year.