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Western Digital Speaks on Perpendicular Technology

Western Digital is probably the most popular maker of hard disk drives among performance enthusiasts, the company manufactures the products paying loads of attention to its customers’ needs and recently began actively promoting its Raptor X hard disk drive among gamers and performance-minded users by sponsoring LAN parties and other kind of gamers-oriented events.

During the CeBIT 2006 show we had an opportunity to speak to Mr. Klaas deVos, who is the company’s vice president for EMEA region operations, about the prospects of perpendicular recording method as well as about further performance enhancements of consumer-class hard disk drives.

The main priority for Western Digital is tremendous reliability of its HDDs for all types of audiences. WD point out that by going to WarrantyWeek.com we can find out that Seagate Technology and Maxtor Corp. were among the Top 50 U.S. warranty providers in 2005 (based on the data these companies submitted to SEC) with $76 million (1.1% of sales) and $135 million (4.9% of sales) warranty claims, respectively. Meanwhile, WD, even being much smaller company, did not come close to such figures as percentage of sails, the company said.

Being fully concentrated on quality, Western Digital has very cautious strategy when it comes to perpendicular recording technology. The company said that it would release its 2.5” HDD with perpendicular recording media in the second half of 2005, much later than Seagate Technology, and its desktop drive utilizing new media type will be available only by mid-2007.

The reason for this very conservative ramp of the perpendicular recording technology is the yield: currently the company has 98% or higher yield on typical 80GB platters. Being able to produce about 200 thousand HDDs per day and fully utilizing its manufacturing capacities, the company has to maintain the yield to sustain its market share. That said, if the yield of HDDs with perpendicular recording media drops as compared to current media, so will the company’s ability to supply enough hard drives to the users.

  

Speaking about possibilities of introducing the Raptor drives with 15 000rpm speeds, Mr. deVos said that this would happen only after the performance-mainstream consumer drives will transit to 10 000rpm speed, a transition he did not expect to happen before 2008, if not later.

 
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