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Seagate Technology on Wednesday said it had begun shipments of the world’s largest 1” hard disk drive aimed at portable multimedia gadgets. The firm said the new ST1 drive complements earlier version launched about a year ago and features similar technologies designed to improve performance and reliability.

The ST1 8GB hard disk drive (HDD) from Seagate is designed for CompactFlash interface, features 2MB buffer and weighs only 19 grams. According to the manufacturer, it takes 2 seconds for the HDD to startup. Additionally, the hard drive features the company’s own RunOn technology that improves HDD performance while in high-movement situations.

Tiny hard disk drives are typically used for portable music players, portable media players, PDAs, high-end digital still cameras, digital video cameras as well as USB storage applications.

Analysts expect the hard drive market for portable media players to reach 63 million units by 2009 (Gartner, April 2005). This includes 1” drives, which are expected to trend upward as a percentage of the market as capacity and availability increases. IDC anticipates that flash memory will continue to be more costly on a per-gigabyte basis than disc drives over at least the next three years.

Other manufacturers of miniature HDDs are Fujitsu and Samsung Electronics.

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