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Seagate ups capacity with new hard drives

Company launches a 2.5-inch device using technology that can hold almost double the amount of data of current designs.

Seagate Technologies has unveiled 10 new hard drives, including its first hard drive to use next-generation perpendicular-recording technology, the company said Wednesday.

The external storage hard drives are marketed under Seagate's Barracuda and Momentus brands. The internal drives include the company's first-ever design for the automotive industry, an 8GB 1-inch drive for portable media players and a 500GB capacity disc drive for home entertainment systems that can store as much as 85 hours of high-definition TV.

Of particular note is the company's first 2.5-inch drive built on perpendicular recording technology. The 160GB storage drive was initially designed for notebooks, but Seagate expects to modify it for other consumer devices, as well.

Perpendicular recording is the next phase of drive storage, according to Brian Dexheimer, an executive vice president of worldwide sales at Seagate. Instead of lying flat, the disc is magnetized so that the bits stand on end. The result is a drive that can hold almost double the amount of data of current designs.

"It's a requirement more than a choice," Dexheimer said. "The recording technology of today is running out of gas, and we needed to do something." Perpendicular recording, combined with optical could take the technology further, he said. "In a 2.5-inch hard drive, you could see 1.5 terabytes of storage.

"It will take the industry several years to get here, but it is possible."

The new products are expected to ship starting this summer. Seagate is preparing to convert between 70 percent and 80 percent of its products to the new perpendicular technology by next year. The company recently saw its revenue from non-PC hard drives jump from just over 4 percent last March to 14 percent this year.

Dexheimer added that the cost per gigabyte should continue to drop with the new disc drive technology. A 400GB device that costs about 75 cents per gigabyte is expected to drop to about 65 cents per gigabyte for the upcoming 500GB hard drive.