Toshiba 60GB iPod-Ready Drive to Ship by Year's End

The much anticipated 60 gigabyte, 1.8-inch hard drive from Toshiba - rumored to be a possible match for Apple to use in a future iPod - will start being mass produced by yearis end, the company said Wednesday.

The new 60GB, dual platter drive (see photo below) is larger in capacity than its current drives, but no larger in physical size than the 40GB drive currently being used in Apple top-line fourth-generation iPod. It weighs 2.187 ounces and is 2.12 inches wide, 3.09 inches deep, 0.315 inches high.

The breakthrough making it possible is new technology that increased the density of the drives surfaces, the company said. Instead of each square inch of a platter storing 61.2 gigabits, the new drive stores 93.5Gbits. "This means each disk platter in the new drive can accommodate 30GB of data compared with 20GB in the current highest capacity drive," a company statement said.

In addition to thinner films to increase platter density, the 60GB drive also has smaller sliders that keep the driveis read/write head at the correct distance above the disk surface. The new Femto sliders are 35% smaller and lighter than current Pico sliders. This allows the read/write head to reach farther out on each platter and use more of the surface for data storage.

Power consumption has also been cut by some 20% by better control of the disks rotation speed. This could mean overall improved battery life for manufacturers of portable music players like Apple, if it were to decide to use the 60GB drive in a future product. At present, Apple fourth-generation iPod has an average 12 hours of battery life on one charge.

Toshiba would not disclose product pricing. The company would only say the product will begin shipping in the fourth quarter of this year.

The new drive and word of its exsistence surfaced in June when a manager of Toshibais hard disk drive division told the IDG News Service Apple had placed an order for the drives. Apple has firmly denied the report. Greg Joswiak, vice president of hardware product marketing at Apple, told TMO July 19th the company never had plans to release a 60GB model. "We have no plans in regard to announcing a 60 gigabyte model of the iPod any time soon," he said.