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October 25, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Having cornered the mass market printer business and scrambled its way to within a few hundred yards of the summit of the personal computer market share tables, Hewlett-Packard Co is about ready to do a number on that segment of the OEM disk drive business that is long on promises of hot new products, but somehow always fails to deliver before the rest of the market has caught up. The company has been quietly working away with the vendor that probably knows more than most about what storage customers really want, EMC Corp, and is now ready with the HP C3653A, an 8.7Gb 3.5 disk drive that spins at 7,200rpm. And, eschewing finesse, it is lobbing the thing right into the middle of the market where the traditional vendors are at their most vulnerable right now: its first target will be disk subsystem integrators for the mainframe storage market. And, mercilously making sure that its kick will bring tears to the eyes of its targets, it is pricing the thing at between 17 cents and 19 cents a Megabyte in OEM quantities. The thing has to work to spec of course or there will be red faces all round, but it should soon be proven one way or the other, because, turning the knife in the wound, the company says A few other manufacturers have announced drives in the 9Gb range, but HP shipped its first drive in July: we now are in position to be the first to deliver production volumes of this capacity in the 3.5 form factor. In return for its input, EMC gets first crack at the drives, and they will be available to other OEM customers next quarter. The HP C3653A is based upon a dual-stripe magneto-resistive recording-head design developed by Hewlett itself, and uses partial response maximum likelihood digital-read-channel technology. It uses SCSI-2 and squeezes 10 platters into its 1.6 high enclosure. Average seek time is 9.2mS and average latency of 4.17mS. The sustained data transfer rate is 6.3M-bytes to 8.9M-bytes per second. Hewlett reckons its proprietary magneto-resistive head technology is good for densities right down to 16G-bits per square inch where the new drives have densities of 800M-bits per square inch, implying that it will be able to do 3.5 disks that store 170Gb data in due course.

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