The Incredible Shrinking Hard Drive

Anyone familiar with hard drive technology knows that over time hard drives have always become faster, cheaper, and smaller. That may not be a great formula for hard drive manufacturers, but it is great for us consumers!

As readers of our What's New online news feed know, this summer Samsung announced a revolutionary 16 GB hard drive that has no moving parts. The flash-memory based drive is silent, plus it uses less power and provides greater speed than today's hard drives which use a spinning disk platter, not unlike a record player.

Samsung's new 16 GB drive is a direct replacement for 2.5 inch hard drives, and there will also be 4 GB and 8 GB versions in a 1.8-inch form factor. Samsung expects to have a 100 GB version available "in a couple of years" as flash prices continue to drop.

Amazingly, in September Samsung also announced plans for a 32 GB removable memory card designed for portable devices such as cell phones. This technology would allow around 8,000 MP3 songs or 20 full length DVD movies to fit onto a cell phone.

In addition to flash memory based storage, traditional hard drive vendors continue to shrink their products. For example Hitachi has announced higher capacity one-inch hard drives.

One-inch drives are commonly used in portable consumer electronics devices like digital music players, providing lighter weight and longer battery life. Eventually we expect cell phones, Palm-like devices and other portable products to incorporate traditional and solid-state hard drives as demand for storage and speed increase and prices fall.

As we went to press, Apple announced a new iPod model, the iPod nano, which uses flash memory storage rather than a traditional hard drive.

September 2005

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