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  • High-Capacity Drives to Dominate Shipments in 1998
  • March 10, 1998 (SINGAPORE) -- Global shipments of disk drives are projected to rise 15 percent to 346.9 million units in 1998, with a sharp increase likely to be seen in high-capacity flexible disk drives, according to Disk Trend Inc., a major U.S. research firm.
    Speaking at the 1998 Asia Computer Storage Conference in Singapore, Disk Trend president James Porter said shipments of high-capacity flexible disk drives will likely rise 70 percent to 15.1 million units this year.

    Magnetic disk drive shipments, which will comprise 43 percent of all disk drive shipments, are estimated to increase 18 percent to 49.1 million units.

    Speaking at a seminar organized by the International Disk Drive Equipment and Materials Association (IDEMA), Porter said CD-ROM, DVD-ROM and CD-RW shipments will grow 18 percent to 81.3 million units in 1998.

    While newer technologies continue to be developed, the standard 3.5-inch drive will still account for about 83 percent of total disk drive shipments, Porter said.

    Mark Geenen of Trend Focus said the recent sluggishness in the industry showed that the "rules are changing." The key factors that will differentiate companies in the market are "brute force technology," faster time-to-market, key OEM relationships and lower prices, Geenen said.

    Also, he said the increasing popularity of the sub-US$1,000 PC is forcing component prices down and the trend has been one of moving toward the sub-US$600 PC. This will result in just a few large players among disk drive makers.

    John Dean, a director at Salomon Smith Barney, said the Asian economic problems add a dimension of uncertainty in the global disk drive market. It is difficult to predict the bottom under present circumstances because the market is looking for signs of fundamental support, Dean said.

    Porter said trends in the past few months showed that the market for disk-drive servers will move toward products featuring 10,000 revolutions per minute (rpm) or higher with an average seek time of 5-7 milliseconds (ms). Current drives average about 7,000 rpm.

    Also, there is a gradual transition to the 3.0-in. drive from the current 3.5-in. drive, although this will take time. Desktop drives will increasingly feature 7,200 rpm with an average seek time of 8-10ms, moving away from the current standard of 5,400 rpm, Porter said.

    The North American market is forecast to grow 18 percent in 1998, Europe will expand about 10 percent, and the Asia-Pacific market will increase a mere 5 percent in 1998, according to Gillian Munson, an analyst at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.

    Disk Trend's Porter estimates that 3.5-in. drives will achieve densities of about 4.25 gigabits per square inch (Gpsi) by the end of 1998, up from 2.687 in 1997, while the standard drive will feature capacities of about 5.3GB, up from 3.36GB last year.

    (Joseph Rajendran, Asia BizTech Correspondent)

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    Updated: Mon Mar 9 19:06:31 1998