IBM Introduces World's Smallest Hard Disk Drive

Canon, HP, IBM, Minolta, and others plan to integrate IBM's microdrive into future products

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SAN JOSE, CA - 09 Sep 1998: . . . IBM today unveiled the world's smallest and lightest hard disk drive. IBM's new microdrive has a disk platter about the size of a large coin. Although it weighs only about as much as one floppy disk, the microdrive can hold more data and images than 236 such disks.

With its small size and high performance, the microdrive is ideally suited for use in still and video digital cameras and handheld or "companion" PCs. Digital photographers can now take more photos before having to pause to download the stored images. They can also take much higher resolution "megapixel" photos more economically.

Unlike other portable storage formats such as flash memory, microdrive uses proven hard disk drive technology to store information. Compared with similarly-sized compact flash cards (which are based on flash memory semiconductor technology), the new 340 megabyte (MB) microdrive device has a much lower cost per megabyte and can hold five times more content.

"We are seeing tremendous market interest for the high-capacity and low cost per megabyte microdrive. It fills a gap that is not being addressed by any other technologies right now," said Bill Healy, general manager of IBM Mobile Storage Products.

Microdrive can bring high-capacity, high-performance storage to almost any handheld digital device besides companion PCs and digital cameras, such as MPEG digital video cameras, GPS navigation devices, cellular phones and consumer appliances.

"Digital information is becoming more pervasive in our lives," said Healy. "By applying our industry-leading technologies to pack lots of information into something as small as the microdrive, we're demonstrating how IBM can help people keep in touch with their information more conveniently wherever they go."

New inventions

"Microdrive will allow new devices to be invented," added Healy. "Our world-renowned scientists and engineers made IBM's advanced hard drive technology so small that it can fit almost anywhere -- in a wristwatch, for example, for storing phone numbers or your schedule."

IBM's microdrive will allow for data to be shared among different handheld devices, for example, a notebook computer, digital camera and printer. Or, a companion PC user could easily carry additional data and software programs on a business trip with the vast amount of storage offered by microdrive.

Microdrive fits into a CompactFlash Type II slot, a new and increasingly popular standard that has already been built into handheld devices made by companies such as Canon Inc. Microdrive can be used with a standard PC Card adaptor if a device does not have this slot. Canon, IBM, Hewlett-Packard Company, Hitachi, Ltd., and Minolta Co., Ltd, are evaluating the device now for possible integration into future mobile and handheld devices.

IBM's microdrive product will be available in mid-1999 on retailer shelves or directly from IBM or its resellers.

The microdrive will make its debut at the Photokina trade show, from September 16-21, in Cologne, Germany. It will be displayed at the CompactFlash Association booth and other exhibits. Media interested in an interview and/or private demonstration at Photokina can contact IBM public relations in the U.S. or Germany.

Users can access more technical and application information through IBM's hard drive web site address,

What others are saying about microdrive

"I cover a lot of Silicon Valley events and must take many high-resolution press-quality photos that are transmitted immediately to the major news wires. Microdrive can solve my problem of having to download photos multiple times, while continuing to shoot," said Court Mast, president of Mast Photography Corp., and former freelancer for Associated Press and Reuter News Pictures.

"The new IBM microdrive products represent an exciting development for the digital camera and other handheld high-tech product industries. Canon will be able to incorporate this technology into its digital cameras to offer products with even greater capacity, enabling users to store even more high-quality, high-resolution images than before," said Yukichi Niwa, advisory director and senior general manager of Canon's digital imaging business group's camera operations.

"IBM has created a breakthrough in storage for mobile products," said J. Gerry Purdy, president and CEO of Mobile Insights in Mountain View, Calif. "It will greatly expand the market for digital cameras, handheld computers and consumer electronic products."

IBM microdrive preliminary specification information:

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