Back in the old days, there was one size for hard drives, and maybe the device spun a little faster or had a bit more capacity than its competition. But this week, Samsung and Seagate illustrated how variegated the industry has become.
On Tuesday, Samsung announced three new hard drives: a 1.8-inch, 120GB model, a 3.5-inch 1-terabyte drive and a 2.5-inch, 120GB "hybrid" drive that includes flash memory as well as the traditional spinning platters. And on Monday, Seagate announced a rugged 80GB model that's geared for harsh environments.
Samsung's new F1 Series drive combines three 334MB platters to reach its 1TB capacity. It uses a Serial ATA (SATA) interface with 3Gbps transfer speeds, spins at 7200 revolutions per minute (rpm), includes 32MB of cache and costs about $399. The drives are geared for video recorders, desktop PCs and external storage systems.
On the small end of the spectrum is a 120GB, 1.8-inch drive, the N2 Series. It spins at 4200rpm and is geared for portable music players, mobile phones, cameras and lightweight PCs. It costs $249 and has a parallel ATA interface.
In between is the 2.5-inch, $299 MH80 Series hybrid model. It supplements 160GB of regular drive capacity with 256MB of flash memory. The idea is that the flash memory can often serve users' needs, letting the drive save energy by not spinning the drive platters and saving an estimated 25 minutes of battery life on a typical notebook PC. It also means the computer can boot and load applications faster.
Samsung also announced the $70 SH-S203 recordable DVD drive, which can use both DVD+R and DVD-R formats and uses a SATA interface. Also new is a $150 slim SE-T084 DVD driver for portable computers. It uses a USB interface and doesn't need its own AC adapter.
Competitor Seagate released its 2.5-inch, 80GB EE25.2 drive for more demanding environments than the relatively smooth and cool interior of a PC chassis. The drive can handle high and low temperatures, shock and vibration, humidity and high altitude. It's geared for use in automobiles, aircraft, industrial control systems, closed-circuit video systems and rugged PCs, Seagate said.