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Thursday, June 09, 2005, 12:00 pm PT (03:00 pm ET)

New 8GB Seagate drive ideal for future iPod mini

A new 8GB hard disk drive from Seagate Technologies will likely find its way into a future version of Apple's iPod mini digital music player, pending any further advancements in the 1-inch drive market during the next calendar quarter.

The new drive, capable of holding 4000 songs or 8GB worth of digital photos or video, is just one of ten new hard disk drives introduced by the Scotts Valley, Calif.-based company on Thursday.

The 8GB 1-inch drive is the latest member of Seagate's ST1 family of microdrives, which also includes a new 4GB offering. Both capacity drives weigh only 19 grams and feature a time-to-ready speed of just 1.2 seconds.

Among the drives' other features are a 2-Mbyte buffer, high shock tolerance, and Seagate's unique RunOn Technology, which improves performance while in a high-vibration environment, such as jogging.

Seagate said it is shipping a limited number 8GB ST1 drives today and is expected to ramp production in the coming months.

Apple over the past year has increasingly become one of Seagate's best customers for 1-inch microdrives. The iPod maker originally tapped Seagate to help supply the drives for its 4GB iPod mini during the second half of 2004.

At the time, Apple was being supplied with 4GB microdrives from Hitachi. When Hitachi was unable to meet growing demand for the drives, source said Apple enlisted the help of Seagate, which sold the iPod maker 5GB ST1 microdrives that were then capped and sold in 4GB iPod minis.

Seagate is also Apple's current supplier of 6GB microdrives for the second-generation iPod mini, according to sources.

Gartner research recently said the hard drive market for portable media players will reach 63 million units by 2009. While flashed-based players are showing an increasing presence in the digital music space these days, higher-capacity flash chips remain too costly for sub-$200 consumer electronic devices.

In fact, research firms such as IDC anticipate that flash memory will continue to be more costly on a per-gigabyte basis than disc drives for at least the next three years.