MILPITAS, Calif. Drive makers are increasing rotational rates to address the power user and at the same time are focusing on ways to increase reliability and thus decrease the number of drives they have returned. Both Quantum Corp., based here, and Western Digital Corp. (Irvine, Calif.) are unveiling 7,200-rpm drives that use proprietary techniques to safeguard up to 18 Gbytes of data.
Quantum's Fireball Plus KA drive (at right) has capacities ranging from 6.4 to 18.2 Gbytes, with a seek time of 8.5 milliseconds. It uses a new data-protection system (DPS) to tell if the drive is working when the PC fails, as well as a shock-protection system (SPS) that Quantum credits with reducing returns by 35 percent. The SPS reduces the impact of shocks during shipment and installation, when a drive is often jarred.
The DPS scheme is a quick check that can be done by end users. When the PC fails, it provides a way to see if the drive is dead or active. That will further help reduce the loss of data that occurs when a user returns a drive that is often working fine and replace it with a unit that doesn't have personalized data. DPS will ship on all Quantum drives unveiled in the future, and it can be added to drives built after June, 1996. It's available now as a floppy and will soon be available on Quantum's Web site. The 18-Gbyte Fireball Plus KA retails for $399, with volume shipments beginning late this quarter.
WD's Expert line is the first to use giant MR heads purchased from IBM through a joint development program. It comes with 9.1- to 18-Gbyte capacity, with an 8.5-millisecond seek time. In a second announcement, WD is unveiling a 20.4-Gbyte drive that spins at 5,400 rpm. The faster rotational rate provides a 43 percent decrease in latency. WD sees 7,200-rpm drives moving from the high end of the desktop market into the mainstream by 2000 or so.
WD's data-protection scheme, Data Lifeguard, isolates and repairs problems before data is lost. Every eight hours of operation, it scans the platters' surfaces during idle time to locate problem sectors. These areas are then blocked out or repaired, and data that's in them is written elsewhere.
WD's 18-Gbyte Expert will retail for $499.
Both the Quantum and WD drives use the Ultra ATA interface, which moves data at up to 66 Mbytes/s.
Quantum, (800) 624-5545
Issue of January 4, 1999; EETInfo No. 637
Western Digital, (949) 932-5000
Issue of January 4, 1999; EETInfo No. 638