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Chinese firm sees magic in minidrive

GS Magicstor unveils a 1-inch hard drive that can hold up to 4.8GB of data, the highest capacity yet packed into a drive that small.

China-based GS Magicstor unveiled a 1-inch hard drive that can hold up to 4.8GB of data, the highest capacity yet packed into a drive that small, according to the company.

The hard-drive maker on Wednesday said its new series of 1-inch drives, which also come in 2.2GB, are targeted at consumer electronics devices.

"By using the same, current technologies available for the high-volume hard-drive production, the Magicstor 1-inch HDD (hard disk drive) is able to meet today's increasing demands for high-capacity handheld electronic devices such as the digital cameras, PDAs, laptops, MP3 players, handheld digital video players and other portable consumer electronics," Magicstor CEO David Wu said in a statement.

The company said it is also developing an even smaller 0.8-inch drive.

The market is slowly heating up for small disk drives, which are finding their way into products such as music players. The drives offer cheaper storage than competing flash memory technology does. Research firm IDC has predicted that the market for 1-inch drives will grow from about 750,000 shipments in 2003 to 1.5 million this year. That's still a small fraction of the overall market for disk drives.

But a number of companies are competing in the minidrive arena. Toshiba plans to unveil a hard drive that measures less than an inch across. Hitachi and start-up Cornice make 1-inch drives. Hitachi's 4GB 1-inch drive is at the heart of Apple Computer's latest iPod music player. Cornice recently announced a 2GB 1-inch drive.