IBM has launched what it claims is the world's highest capacity disk drive for desktop systems. The 16.8Gb drive, called the Deskstar 16GP, is the first to be based on a breakthrough IBM technology called Giant Magnetoresistive (GMR) heads, an evolution of the magneto-resistive technology used in disk drives today. IBM will demonstrate the Deskstar 16GP at the Comdex show and plans to start shipping 3.5in drives in volume in the second quarter of next year. The drives will appear in IBM's own desktop PCs but will also be sold to OEMs. The first such OEM partner to be announced is Dell, though others will follow. IBM is also launching a higher-speed disk drive, the 14.4Gb, 7,200 revolutions per minute Deskstar 14GXP. Pricing for the new drives is not yet available. The Deskstar 16GP, according to IBM, can hold eight times more than the average desktop hard drive today. With a density of about 2.7 billion bits per square inch, the drive will set a density record. "It brings high-powered workstation capacity and performance to the average desktop user," the firm claimed. The GMR head in the new drive is claimed to be the world's most sensitive sensor for reading computer data on hard drives. No bigger than the head of a pin, the GMR technology was pioneered by IBM Research scientists. Work started on the development in 1988. "GMR is the future of disk drive storage into the next century," declared David Trussler, storage manager at IBM UK. "IBM has been at the forefront of disk drives since we invented them in the 1950s. Whatever IBM puts in the marketplace has a good chance of becoming the standard." He promised "good big disk drives at nice low prices". IBM predicted that drives with more than 10 billion bits per square inch could be possible by 2001, using the technology. Drives with more bits per square inch are reckoned to be superior in terms of capacity, performance and reliability.
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