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Hitachi shows 4GB Microdrive
During the IFA show Hitachi is demonstrating the possibilities that they have within reach with the increased capacity of the Microdrive. Manfred Berger, senior manager of business development is present at the show and he spent some time talking to us. According to Mr. Berger Hitachi has also obtained the Microdrive product by taking over the complete division of storage of IBM. Practically all products involved in the taking-over fill in the gap of those groups of products that Hitachi did not fill in yet. The taking-over has lead to the situation that Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, HGST, has taken on Microdrive as well as the high quality server storage equipment in its assortment.
The new 4GB Microdrive is much more attractive from a financial point of view compared to the 4GB flash memory card. However there is a big difference between the flash memory card and the Microdrive. A Microdrive consists of moving elements, which makes the Microdrive relatively vulnerable to use as a compact and exchangeable medium whereas the flash memory card consists of elements that don't get influenced from outside. Beside all that the 4GB Microdrive belongs to the CompactFlash type II size, while a high capacity flash memory card can be produced in a type I size as well.
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Of course it is still quite an achievement to manufacture a mini hard disk at a size of 1 inch. The Hitachi Microdrive is showed in combination with the Fuji FinePix M603 camera, with the emphasis on the possibility to record video clips in VGA quality and a speed of 30 fps. The observant reader will notice straight away that the FinePix M603 doesn’t support FAT32 and it turns out that there is talk of a 2GB Microdrive size that is being formatted according to the FAT16 size. So beside the 4GB there is also a 2GB size Microdrive. Both storage media are based on new techniques. Beside the new technological developments Hitachi also pays attention to the reliability of the Microdrive.
The disadvantage of using a Microdrive as a storage medium is the risk of dropping it. The new generation of Microdrives is improved as to the damage when dropping it. But still the risk exists. The housing of the Microdrive now has a rubber fender all around, something that the first generation was lacking all around. This fender makes it possible for the Microdrive to survive a fall of 75cm on a concrete floor. When falling on carpet of a minimum of 1cm it may be 1m. If we realize what the height is when we are standing up straight and dropping the Microdrive, we realize that the risk of damage is present. The image of the open Microdrive is one of the 1GB Microdrives, the patents of the construction of the new generation 2 and 4GB Microdrives have not officially been confirmed, so this information can not be exposed to the outside world yet.
The technique of the Microdrive is based on high capacity storage. The disadvantage of this is that platters can be adjusted concerning amount but a platter can not be divided in halves. In other words, Flash memory can be built up from 32MB to 4GB, where as the Microdrive is built up from 2GB, 4GB and higher. In fact there is not much room for Hitachi to reach a large group of consumers. Only the possibilities of high capacity and low prices are available. As soon as the prices of the Flash memory reaches the price of the Microdrives, Hitachi will pay less attention to both storage media and will concentrate on new possibilities of applications and higher storage capacity. The next generation storage capacity can easily reach a minimum of 7GB (not officially confirmed!).