Mobile phone and PDA owners can look forward to the arrival of portable hard drives for their devices that would allow high quality video to be viewed and shared on the hoof.
Hard drive manufacturers have agreed a new standard in just six months that will allow miniature hard drives to be plugged into Multimedia card (MMC) slots. The move could see the end of the standards war between CompactFlash, MMC and PC cards over the best form of removable media.
The new CE-ATA standard was agreed between top hard drive manufacturers like Hitachi and Toshiba.
The idea to create a new standard was first floated at the last Intel Developer Forum and has been agreed quickly as manufacturers are anxious to avoid the costs involved in multiple formats.
"We are not reinventing the wheel; we are using existing technology," said Knut Grimsrud, chairman of the CE-ATA working group.
"It looks like we are on a path for CE-ATA products as early as the end of the year. The speed on this has been remarkable: six months to a finished standard."
The forthcoming drives will only require 12-15 connection pins, compared to current hard drive models that need 50 connectors. The result is faster drives that use less power and allow device manufacturers to cut production costs.
However, there are still some minor hurdles to overcome. The connector build still needs to be decided but this is expected to be finalised in the next three months.
In the next year built-in hard drives using the new standard will be available in phones, PDAs and portable entertainment centres.
With second-generation products next year, consumers will be able to buy gigabyte hard drives that slot into MMC ports. This offers a huge opportunity for people to carry music and video on a device about 7 x 4 x 1 centimetres and view them on the go.
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