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Seagate unveils monster hard drives

Seagate Technology is beefing up the capacity of its hard disk drives to a whopping 750 gigabytes - a 50 percent increase over their current largest  drives.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Seagate Technology LLC is beefing up the capacity of its hard disk drives to a whopping 750 gigabytes, offering consumers of digital media more storage for their computers than ever before.

The drive Seagate will introduce Wednesday, the Barracuda 7200.10, is the first computer desktop disk drive to hit the 750-gigabyte mark and represents a 50 percent increase from the previous industry maximum of 500 gigabytes.

Scotts Valley-based Seagate, the world’s largest disk-drive maker, is first releasing the product as an internal drive for PC makers. Next week, it plans to introduce external hard drives — add-ons that consumers can use to supplement their existing computer setups — with a suggested retail price of $559.

After that, Seagate plans to introduce versions for other consumer electronics, such as digital video recorders that are growing in popularity as standalone set-top-boxes or part of cable and satellite television receivers.

For consumers, the beefier drives mean they can store more movies, photos, games and songs with less worry about quickly running out of space. They also could have larger backup drives to ensure against data loss when their drives crash. (Seagate offers a five-year warranty on its drives.)

Analysts say a 750-gigabyte drive could hold roughly 375 hours of standard-definition television programming, about 75 hours of high-definition video, or more than 10,000 music CDs converted to the MP3 digital audio format.

For the hard drive industry, the capacity milestone pegs the biggest, fastest jump in its 50-year history.

The big leap stems from a new so-called “perpendicular recording” technology that allows drive makers like Seagate and rival Hitachi Global Storage Technologies to boost the density of a disk by aligning bits of data vertically rather than horizontally. At the same time, fewer moving components are needed in the drives.

The advances are leading to the largest, most reliable disk drives yet, said Seagate product marketing manager Joni Clark.

Before long, consumers will have terabyte-, or 1,000-gigabyte, drives at their disposal, Clark said.