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Three leading manufacturers of hard disk drives (HDDs), Hitachi GST, Seagate Technology and Western Digital, have agreed to form a group that would research hard drive technologies and define the roadmap of HDD future.  The companies have already invested millions of dollars into the emerging organization.

"By the end of the year we hope to have all the hard drive and component companies, including semiconductor makers, in line because the proposition is so compelling," said Mark Geenen, chairman of the International Disk Drive and Equipment Materials Association (IDEMA), which will manage the research group, reports EETimes.

According to Mr. Geenen, smaller HDD makers, such as Samsung and Toshiba, are also invited to join the group. Component manufacturers Fuji Electric, LSI, Marvell, TDK and Texas Instruments are also projected to participate in the group.

Storage technologies are getting more and more complex as manufacturers try to squeeze more bits onto hard drive media. As a result, it makes a lot of sense for hard drive makers as well as manufacturers of other components to share fundamental research and development costs. A group consisting of numerous market players also means that that the companies are likely to ensure compatibility between different components, which will probably affect pricing of HDDs.

"Companies have come to the realization it’s the biggest technology transition in the last 20 years of the drive business, if not in its whole history. Now that we are down to five hard disk companies and a handful of component vendors, we need to do more precompetitive collaboration so our infrastructure is tuned and ready to go," said Mr. Geenen.

Hitachi GST has worked to develop patterned media, a way of precisely locating bits on a spinning disk, that could require 12.5nm lithography. Seagate has labored on heat-assisted magnetic recording, which requires a laser heat source to raise the temperature of a tiny recording spot on the disk by several hundred degrees for perhaps 150 picoseconds. Both approaches promise increase of HDD storage space but are still undeveloped and expensive. Eventually, drive makers project to use both techniques in tandem to drive areal density beyond 50Tbits/square inch.

"Those challenges are too massive for any single company to handle technically or from a business perspective. We're talking about billion-dollar investments in new factories and retrofits while the technology is still immature," stressed Mr. Geenen.

Tags: Hitachi, Seagate, Western Digital, HDD


Comments currently: 5
Discussion started: 08/19/10 03:56:35 PM
Latest comment: 08/20/10 04:49:20 PM
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Strange ... Doesn't smell good While competition was in full swing, every maker had a technology to show. SAMSUNG has the best linear transfer speed and generally stellar performance with the F3 line. WD has the best drives all round and does a lot of development launching many many models and upgraded versions each quarter. They also have the Velociraptor that's really an impressive product. Hitachi has probably the best Firmware when it comes to MUTITHREADING. I think that ... if it ain't broke , don’t fix it. The current situation seems fine to me. All this "collaboration" doesn't smell good for the user.
0 0 [Posted by: East17  | Date: 08/19/10 03:56:35 PM]

I agree. This collaboration sounds more like price fixing in the long term. All the joint ventures seems very ominous for the consumers. It is one thing to agree on a standard. It is another, when all the products on the market are eseentially the same, with only a sticker differentiating.

Too big to fail!
0 0 [Posted by: JL5  | Date: 08/19/10 05:19:36 PM]

Unified research most likely means more technologies will be explored better, while standardisation of components could reduce average pricing by up to 20% or more. The latter may also give a higher average reliability but thats not automatic.

Whenever a project like this manages to stay together for the duration, it often produces lots of good stuff. I would say that it "smells pretty damn great".

It might also mean a general tech transfer, and that could mean that all makers becomes able to pick and choose rather than being forced to rely only on their own techs.

I disagree that WD has the "best drives"(personally i prefer Hitachi, but i would probably recommend Samsung to most people for "regular use" ), and the only true selling point of Velociraptor nowadays is the low rotational latency. But they´re far too expensive to compete against regular drives, and too slow and not cheap enough to compete with SSDs.
0 0 [Posted by: DIREWOLF75  | Date: 08/19/10 05:31:01 PM]

I am with direwolf on that one... tech collaboration is EXCELLENT for the customer. It means the invention of new technologies that companies could not afford to invest in by themselves. Inventing fundamental tech is not the same as having the same drive with a different sticker.

This is GREAT for the consumer, companies don't like doing it because it means losing an edge over their competitors (they are all better off, but on equal footing). The only reason we are seeing it is because they feel more threatened by SSDs then by each other.
0 0 [Posted by: taltamir  | Date: 08/20/10 03:07:59 AM]
- collapse thread

Those are fundamental technologies, not the ones that are going to be implemented in the coming years.

In order to compere with SSD they will need to work much more.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 08/20/10 04:49:20 PM]


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