Maxtor rolls out 80GB hard drive

With hard drives getting bigger and bigger all the time, it's easy to get blasé about capacities. But Maxtor has introduced what Ed Sullivan might have called, "a really big drive." The DiamondMax 80 EIDE drive will hold 80GB of data, and is - for today at least - the world's largest-capacity, commercially available hard drive. The drive will be available in August and will list for around £250. The DiamondMax 80 packs its data on four platters (each holding 20GB) and spins at 5,400 rotations per minute. It includes a 2MB buffer and has an average access speed of 9 milliseconds. It features the EIDE ATA/100 interface for burst transfer speeds of up to 100MB per second. PCs with the ATA/100 interface are only now starting to become available. But the DiamondMax 80 is compatible with older PCs that use the AT/33 or AT/66 EIDE interface. The older interfaces, however, will limit the drive's speed to their top bursts-33MB per second for the AT/33 and 66MB per second for the AT/66. Maxtor targets the drive at both PC users and the growing consumer-electronics market, such as for disk-based video recorders. And for the consumer market, the DiamondMax 80 is available in a "silent mode" version with a slower access time of 15 ms. Currently, IBM's recently introduced 75GB DeskStar 75GXP is the closest capacity-competitor to the DiamondMax 80. IBM entry features 7200-rpm performance, and sells for around £500. Most hard drive manufacturers are not trying to compete at these ultra-large capacity levels with their IDE-based hard drives, which are used mainly in desktop applications. Other major vendors, however, such as Quantum and Seagate, have hard drives with capacities over 70GB that use the Ultra160 interface (the fastest SCSI spec) and are designed primarily for enterprise use. Maxtor this week also announced additions to both its DiamondMax Plus and VL lines. The new high-performance DiamondMax Plus 45 holds 45GB and is a 7,200-rpm drive with an 8.7-ms average access speed. And for budget-minded users, the DiamondMax VL 40 is a 5,400-rpm, 40GB drive with a 9.5-ms average access speed. Both drives features 2MB buffers, and are scheduled to ship in August.

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