Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST) today announced that the 6GB CompactFlash version of the Microdrive has begun to ship to retailers, with broad availability at pro photo dealers and other outlets expected before the end of February 2005.
The 6GB Microdrive is part of the 3K6 generation of 1-inch Microdrives that HGST produces for use in CompactFlash devices, such as digital cameras, and embedded applications that require an IDE interface, such as certain portable music players, says Bill Heybruck, Senior Applications Engineer at HGST.
3K6-generation Microdrives are nearly identical in physical design to their 3K4-generation predecessors (the current 2GB and 4GB Microdrives are 3K4's). As a result, operating and non-operating shock specifications are the same for both 3K6 and 3K4 Microdrives, at 200 G/2ms and 2000 G/1ms, respectively. They also spin at the same rotational speed of 3600 rpm.
6GB Hitachi Microdrive (Photo courtesy HGST)
Because of the increased areal density (translation: they hold more bits in the same physical area on the disk) of the 3K6-generation Microdrives, however, they're faster at moving data. The sustained media transfer rate, when writing to the outside of the drive's disk, jumps from 7.2MB/second for 3K4-generation Microdrives to 9.4MB/sec for 3K6-generation Microdrives. The sustained media transfer rate when writing to the inside of the disk also increases, from 4.3MB/second to 4.9MB/second. Only real world testing will reveal how much of a performance difference there will be in cameras and card readers of course.
Three capacities of 3K6-generation CompactFlash Microdrives are planned: 3GB, 4GB and 6GB. While the 6GB is poised to hit retailers before the end of the month as noted, we're not certain when the 3GB model will emerge, or when the 3K4-generation 4GB will be replaced on store shelves by its 3K6-generation successor.
The 6GB Microdrive has a manufacturer's suggested list price (MSRP) in the U.S. of US$299; the 3K6-generation 4GB Microdrive has an MSRP in the U.S. of US$199.
The 6GB Microdrive, inside and out (Photo courtesy HGST)
Update, 4:45PM: Pexagon Technology, the primary distributor of the Microdrive to retail outlets in the U.S., indicates that the 6GB model will come available the first week of March 2005 (which is a bit later than the end of February 2005 availability noted in HGST's press release), with shipment of the 3GB model to follow shortly thereafter.