Seagate introduces small hard drive

Adding momentum to a push for smaller drives in corporate data centers, Seagate introduces a 2.5-inch disk drive that will use an emerging interface.

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Ed Frauenheim
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Adding momentum to a push for smaller drives in corporate data centers, Seagate introduced on Tuesday a 2.5-inch disk drive that will use an emerging interface.

The drive units--about the size of a deck of cards--are designed to allow for smaller storage systems that provide higher levels of performance, according to Seagate. Seagate has named the product, which it demonstrated last year, "Savvio" and expects it to be generally available at the end of the second quarter of 2004. A version of the drive with the new Serial Attached SCSI (small computer system interface) technology is slated to be available late in the third quarter of this year.

Shifting to a shape that allows for a drive that's 70 percent tinier than those used today in storage systems and servers is a major milestone, said Gary Gentry, Seagate's vice president of strategic marketing and planning. "We don't see another shrink...for a few years," he said. "We think this is a big step."

Seagate isn't alone in developing a drive for servers and storage systems that's smaller than typical drive units today--which are roughly 4 inches wide by 5.75 inches long. In December, Fujitsu Computer Products of America said its 2.5-inch Serial Attached SCSI drives were being tested by Hewlett-Packard.

The Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) interface is a higher-speed version of the long-used SCSI technology.

Seagate said its Savvio drives will spin at 10,000 revolutions per minute and be available in one- and two-platter designs, providing 36GB and 73GB capacities. While the diameter of the platters in the drives is about 2.5 inches, the unit as a whole measures about 2.75 inches wide by 3.88 inches long by .63 inches high. Compared with typical storage system drives today, the Savvio drives use 40 percent less power, according to Seagate.

Storage arrays with Savvio drives would allow 70 percent more input-output operations per second in a smaller space than many existing arrays, Seagate said.

John Monroe, analyst with market research firm Gartner, said the move to a smaller drive size in the corporate market is "inevitable and inescapable" as organizations seek to conserve space and control energy costs.

Monroe also predicted that disk drive makers Maxtor and Hitachi Global Storage Technologies may join Seagate and Fujitsu in the 2.5-inch enterprise drive category. "I expect Hitachi to enter the market within a year," he said.

The smaller drives also are suitable for so-called blade servers, Seagate said.