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Fujitsu gets smaller drives into shape

The company's upcoming 2.5-inch hard drives, designed for storage systems and servers, are being put to the test by Hewlett-Packard.

Fujitsu Computer Products of America hit a milestone in the development of its latest creation, a family of smaller hard drives for storage systems and servers.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company said on Monday that Hewlett-Packard is testing the 2.5-inch Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) drives. The shrunken size of the models helps manufacturers increase the data storage capacity in their products, according to Fujitsu. The drives, which can hold up to 73.5GB of data each, are about a third of the size of the 3.5-inch drives typically used in storage systems.

Smaller drives, which can be packed together more tightly, make it possible for manufacturers like HP to increase the capacity of its data storage products, according to Fujitsu. Tens or hundreds of hard drives are combined in these systems to provide gigabytes or terabytes of space, making them popular among corporations and institutions for archiving large amounts of information.

In servers, the drives could help reduce model size or bump up storage space, Fujitsu said. It did not offer details on pricing or expected availability of the new products.

If storage system and server manufacturers begin replacing standard drives with greater numbers of smaller models, Fujitsu could also benefit from a rise in sales.

"Fujitsu is poised to lead the small form factor SAS hard disk drive market, due in large part to its relationship with technology innovators like HP," said Mike Chenery, a vice president of advanced product engineering at the company. "Fujitsu and HP recognize the impact of these hard-disk drives on the market."

The company isn't alone in seeking to win more business in this market. Earlier this year, Seagate unveiled a similar 2.5-inch product that it expects to ship in 2004.

Both sets of drives use the emerging Serial Attached SCSI interface, which shuttles data back and forth from the drive to the system it is housed in. SAS is a higher-speed version of the long-used SCSI, or small computer systems interface.

Fujitsu said its SAS drives offer high data-transfer rates and cut down on heat and noise production. The 2.5-inch SAS drives can transfer up to 300MB of data per second, it said.