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Maxtor buffs up DiamondMax drives

The company refreshes its line of hard drives to serve up more data, more quickly, for users of desktop PCs.

Maxtor has refreshed its DiamondMax family of hard drives to serve up more data, and serve it up more quickly, for users of desktop PCs.

The drive maker on Thursday announced that it has begun shipping four new drives, including the high-capacity DiamondMax 16 and DiamondMax Plus 9 drives for top-of-the-line desktop PCs. The company also introduced the DiamondMax Plus 8 for midrange PCs and the Fireball 3 for low-priced computers.

The DiamondMax Plus 9 is Maxtor's highest-performance desktop PC drive to date. The drive pairs storage capacities of 60GB, 80GB, 120GB and 160GB with a rotation speed of 7,200 revolutions per minute. (The rotation speed refers to the spinning of the hard-drive platters, which hold the data and function like a record on a record player.)

Drive makers have combined the 7,200rpm speed, up from 5,400rpm, with higher areal densities (or the amount of data that a drive maker can fit onto a single platter) and a new, higher-bandwidth ATA133 interface in a quest to outdo one another and offer PC makers and consumers faster, higher-capacity disks. Faster drives with higher-bandwidth interfaces can read and write data more quickly, which can help boost PC performance.

The higher capacities of the Maxtor new drives stem from an increase in areal density. The Milpitas, Calif.-based company bumped its areal density up to as much as 80GB per platter for the new drives, doubling the 40GB of older drives such as its D540X.

Drive makers such as Maxtor will continue to increase the areal densities through research, thus boosting their available storage capacity. Among other things, the increases allow manufacturers to create new drives with the same or better storage capacities, but fewer platters, which helps to reduce the complexity and price of new offerings.

The DiamondMax Plus 9 rivals Western Digital's $399 Drivezilla, a 200GB, 7,200rpm hard drive that began shipping in July. Western Digital uses an areal density of 66GB per platter to reach the 200GB mark.

While large hard drives make for big headlines, most PCs now shipping come with drives ranging in size from 20GB to 80GB. The most expensive systems ship with 120GB drives. The new higher-capacity drives will likely appear in PCs later in the year.

To address the broader market, Maxtor also introduced the DiamondMax 16 and DiamondMax 8 line of drives.

The DiamondMax 16 drives offer 60GB, 80GB, 120GB and 160GB capacities, but will likely come in at a lower price than the DiamondMax Plus 9 drives, because of their slower 5,400rpm speed.

The DiamondMax Plus 8 is designed to offer performance on the cheap. It uses a single platter with a 7,200rpm speed. Maxtor will aim the drive, which will come in 20GB, 30GB and 40GB capacities, at midlevel PCs for businesses and consumers.

The company also introduced the new Fireball 3, a 5,400rpm drive that also will come in 20GB, 30GB and 40GB capacities.

Maxtor did not announce its prices for the new drives.