IBM hoping new 'pixie dust' hard disk drives fly
By Laura Rohde
(IDG) -- IBM Wednesday launched three hard disk drive products -- the Deskstar 120GXP, the Travelstar 60GH and the Travelstar 40GN -- that include its magnetic coating technology, nicknamed pixie dust.
The new technology, announced by IBM last May, gained its nickname because of the atomic size of the metal used to store data on the hard drive. It's officially called antiferromagnetically coupled (AFC) media. It works by putting a three-atom-thick layer of ruthenium -- a precious metal similar to platinum -- between two magnetic layers on a disk. The technology allows hard disk drives to store four times as much data per square inch of disk area as previous hard drives, IBM said in a statement.
IBM predicts that with the pixie dust technology, its hard-disk densities will reach 100G bits per square inch by 2003, meaning that its hard drives could come with capacities of 400GB for desktop drives and 200GB for notebooks, IBM said.
IBM's Deskstar 120GXP features a 3.5-in. desktop hard drive with a 120GB capacity and a speed of 7,200 rotations per minute (rpm), the company said. The Travelstar 60GH has 60GB of storage capacity and runs at 5400 rpm, making it, according to IBM, the highest-capacity, highest-performing 2.5-in. notebook drive on the market. The 40GN family of 2.5-in. notebook hard disk drives offers capacities of 40GB, 30GB, 20GB or 10GB at 20GB per disk and runs at 4,200 rpm, IBM said.
The Deskstar 120GXP, which will be available by the end of the month, is expected to retail for $349, IBM said. It will also come in capacities of 80GB for $269 and 40GB for $169, an IBM spokeswoman said.
The new Travelstar drives are available immediately and will retail for $429 for the Travelstar 60GH and $225 for the Travelstar 40GN, the company said.
Fujitsu Ltd. is using similar technology. Fujitsu's SF Media uses a recording medium made up of two magnetic layers separated by a thin layer of ruthenium. Fujitsu expects its first commercial products with SF Media to debut in the first or second quarter of next year.
Maxtor Corp. and Seagate Technology Inc. offer competition in terms of storage capacity, although they use different technology. Maxtor's extra-large hard drive for storage, the DiamondMax D540X, can stack two double-sided platters to achieve 80GB capacity while spinning at 5,400 rpm; the U series drives from Seagate Technology are being billed as the first-ever 40GB-per-platter drives.
In contrast to IBM's and Fujitsu's new technology, Maxtor and Seagate aren't moving to new processes, opting instead to refine their existing technologies.
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IBM press release
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