CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Christmas Gift Guide
Culture

Manufacturers get mobile drives movin'

Hard-drive makers are revving their mobile products and shifting into high gear, developing faster rotational speeds that are expected to improve performance.

Hard-drive makers are revving their mobile products and shifting into high gear.

IBM and Toshiba separately announced this month that they're boosting the rotational speed of upcoming mobile drives from 4,200RPM to 5,400RPM. The faster rotational speeds are expected to significantly improve performance; IBM expects performance to increase about 25 percent.

While difficult to develop, performance improvements continue in the hard-drive industry, as customers constantly demand faster, smaller-sized drives that boast larger capacities. Innovations for mobile hard drives are especially difficult, though, because of the added issues of battery life, heat and noise, according to IDC analyst David Reinsel.

But the payoffs are bigger in the mobile hard-drive industry, a less-mature market with fewer competitors. Slim profit margins in the desktop hard-drive industry have led some major manufacturers to leave that market and concentrate on mobile products. Last year, Fujitsu did just that and is focusing on server drives in addition to drives for notebooks.

Reinsel said he expects the new drives from IBM and Toshiba to find their way into servers too.

"These drives aren't just attractive for laptops; in many ways they make sense for the server blade market as well, which has been getting lots of attention," Reinsel said.

Reinsel estimated that shipments for server blades could hit 2 million units by 2005.

Server blades are ultradense servers that are ideal for situations where it's important to have as many servers as possible in a small space. Other potential advantages of blades: They're easier to install than larger servers; they have dedicated software that improves performance and reliability; and, ultimately, administrators will be able to quickly reassign groups of blades to different computing tasks.

Many components of notebooks tend to be suitable for server blades because both types of devices share similar space, heat and performance considerations.

Capacities of the new drives will range from 20GB to 40GB. IBM has not settled on pricing for its Travelstar GXN drives, which the company expects to ship in April. Toshiba representatives wouldn't release pricing of its drives because the drives are only being sold to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). The Toshiba drives are expected to be available this month.