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Toshiba Storage Device Division (SDD) announced on Tuesday that it had shipped the world’s first commercial hard disk drive (HDD) that utilizes perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology. The new HDD is primarily targeted at consumer electronics (CE) applications.

Toshiba’s new hard drive model MK4007GAL comes in 1.8” form-factor and can store up to 40GB of data on its only platter. Another hard disk drive to utilize PMR technology is MK8007GAH, which is to be introduced later this year. Toshiba claims that perpendicular magnetic recording allowed the company to achieve highest areal density on the market – 133Gb per square inch (133Gb/in2).

Toshiba’s HDDs that use PMR feature 4200rpm motors, Parallel ATA-100 interface and 15ms average seek time, which is rather slow for personal computer applications, but sufficient for consumer electronics devices. Toshiba does not manufacture hard disk drives for desktop computers, but focuses on HDDs for laptops that also do not require desktop-class performance. Other HDD maker Seagate also indicated that its first PMR hard drive would be targeted at laptops.

Perpendicular recording gets its name from the vertical alignment of data bits on the plane of the disk, which takes less room in contrast to the horizontal orientation of today’s longitudinal recording technology. To be accurately recorded and read, the more closely-packed perpendicular bits also require a closer association between the read/write head and the recording media. Hitachi said earlier this year it had achieved the 230Gb/in2 density by manipulating the head and media so that the distance between them is a mere 10nm.

The new PMR HDD is now shipping in Toshiba’s new Gigabeat F41 MP3 player as well as to OEM and channel partners, the company indicated.

Toshiba also plans to apply PMR technology to its 0.85” HDD in 2006, increasing capacity to 6GB-8GB per platter and supporting Toshiba’s efforts to pioneer the market for ultra-small form factor drives.

“PMR opens the door to products we haven't even begun to imagine, by removing the technical barriers inherent to packing more data on an HDD. Providing greater storage capacity on mobile disk drives allows Toshiba to give system OEMs the tools they need for next-generation digital information and entertainment devices,” Scott Maccabe, vice president, Toshiba Storage Device Division.

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