New Micro Drive Holds 2 GB

Cornice's first-generation product, a 1.5-Gbyte, 1-inch drive introduced last year, has already been integrated into more than a dozen portable consumer devices, including RCA and Rio MP3 players as well as Samsung's "digital gadget," featuring a JPEG camera, MPEG-4 movie functionality, stereo audio recorder and MP3 player.

By increasing storage capacity to 2 Gbytes, Cornice aims to propel its device into a variety of next-generation portable combo products ranging from video cameras and portable GPS devices to camera phones and high-resolution digital still cameras combined with MP3 players.

"The need for [larger] storage capabilities just continues to grow as more and more fully functional combo products come to the market featuring enriched A/V functions," said Kevin Magenis, president and chief executive officer of Cornice. Magenis even predicted the emergence of mobile handsets equipped with hard drives within a year.

Magenis said the Cornice product is not a traditional, removable hard-disk drive, since it's designed for placement directly on a motherboard. The stripped-down drive, developed specifically for consumer products, eschews many features found in PC hard drives, such as caching, male and female connectors, and redundant RAM and ROM. The Cornice drive shares electronics-such as a part of the flash-with a host product, to reduce system cost and complexity and to lower component counts.

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The drive is now going through final qualifications and is scheduled to ship in volume in the first quarter. It will be priced below $70 in quantities of more than 100,000 units per year, according to Cornice.

The 2-Gbyte storage capacity is ideal for portable GPS devices, since it's enough to hold the map of an entire continent, Cornice says. The company is also targeting video cameras, Magenis said.

Because of the higher data transfer rate video requires, "we needed to optimize duty cycles and manage buffers much better," he said. "A bigger DRAM is needed as a buffer to hold video." Data will be read as needed and copied to host memory, to reduce power consumption.

Three unidentified customers have already signed up for the 2-Gbyte hard drive, the company said. A dozen customers will be showing off products using Cornice's 1.5-Gbyte drive at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

This story courtesy of TechWeb .