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Maxtor drive holds 1.8 million images

Company's next-generation SATA drive, which will have half a terabyte of memory, will ship this fall.

What would you do with half a terabyte of memory, which is enough to store 700 CDs, with plenty of room to spare?

Hard-drive manufacturer Maxtor aims to find out. With so many consumers snapping digital photos and storing music files, Maxtor executives said they are enthusiastic about the company's next-generation Serial ATA, or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, hard drive, which can store up to 500GB, or half a terabyte of information.

Maxtor will ship its 7200RPM, 3Gb SATA and ATA 133 hard drives sometime between July and the end of September for use in consumer electronics, desktop computers, business applications and consumer external storage.

To provide some perspective, the 3.5-inch drives will be able to hold about 1.8 million 300KB images or 145 hours of quality video. Consumers could snap 50,000 JPEGs and still only use 5GB. A half terabyte of memory could handle about 100 DVDs or 250 hours of HDTV.

The new hard drives will compete for space in computer devices with similar 500GB offerings from LaCie, as well as upcoming products from Seagate and Hitachi.

In a recent report, analysts with the research firm iSuppli said demand for high-capacity drives is being fueled by the number of digital video recorders, set-top boxes and other high-capacity consumer devices.

"These applications typically use drives with capacities ranging from 160GB to 500GB," iSuppli said.

Maxtor said it would include the new hard drives throughout its product lineup, including the Maxtor QuickView, which powers consumer electronics such as digital video recorders and similar combination devices.

The new drives would also be cooler than previous designs and improve on data management, security, and audio/video stream detection, Maxtor said. The company also said that the 500GB hard drives would use fewer hazardous substances than earlier models to meet guidelines set by the European Union.