SAN JOSE, Calif. – Toshiba Corp. will open in Japan two new R&D facilities for its hard disk drive business. The move amounts to a shot across the bow of Toshiba's larger competitors in the consolidating hard drive business.
In March, Western Digital said it would acquire Hitachi GST to become the world's largest hard drive maker. In April, Seagate countered by bidding $1.4 billion to buy Samsung's hard drive business in an effort to hold on to its position as the top HDD vendor.
Toshiba said it will open on July 16 its HDD Advanced Technology Center to accelerate development of products with higher aerial density, a term referring to the ability to pack more bits on a square inch of a drive. The company will open the same day its HDD Manufacturing Technology Center to develop enhanced drive-making capabilities.
TDK Corp, which manufactures magnetic heads, and Showa Denko K.K., which makes disks, will collaborate with Toshiba in the new centers. Unlike competitors Seagate and Western Digital that are vertically integrated, Toshiba works with third parties for its key components.
In 2004, Toshiba became one of the first drive makers to ship products using perpendicular magnetic recording technology, a technique now used in virtually all drives to achieve densities expected to hit 1Tbit per square inch.
A number of drive makers—including Segate and WD--are now collaborating on the next big leap which could involve moving to heat-assisted magnetic recording, patterned media or a combination of the two techniques. Toshiba said it will work with TDK and Showa Denko on both technologies.