The best of all possible worlds?

Sometimes I feel for my fellow reporters who follow other beats. How disappointing it must be to wait for news that comes along in a slow drip, while I get a rainstorm about storage almost every day.

If someone suffers from writer's block, my advice is to get involved with storage -- you’ll always have plenty to write about. In fact, I hardly know what writer's block is. On the contrary, in preparing my column I am often torn as to what to sacrifice that week for lack of space and time.

The deluge of new storage products and technologies might only be a temporary phenomenon. But while it lasts, let me paraphrase Doctor Pangloss, the optimist teacher in Voltaire's satire Candide: This is the best of all possible worlds for storage.

Wondering what prompts my rosy vision this time? News from Fujitsu about new enterprise-class disk drives, which comes shortly after similar announcements from Hitachi GST.

In short, Fujitsu has matched Hitachi's offering of disk drives with as much as 300GB capacity. The new drives come in the usual 3.5-inch format and with SCSI and FC (Fibre Channel) connectivity.

Before we dismiss this as an expected “me too," let’s note that the specs of the new drive from Fujitsu boast a remarkable density -- 75Gb per square inch -- which, according to the company, is made possible in just four platters.

As you may remember, the 300GB drive from Hitachi is built on five platters, which could give the device from Fujitsu a slight advantage in terms of manufacturing simplicity, power consumption, and heat generation.

In a related announcement, Fujitsu has sprinkled even more spice on its disk offering, adding a fast-spinning -- 15K RPM drive -- with a 147GB capacity. The new drive is a first to market for Fujitsu and a much-needed option for customers who had to choose, until now, between capacity and speed for their disk arrays.

Obviously the two companies are engaged in a race, and we’ll probably see other disk manufacturers such as Maxtor and Seagate join that competition to dominate the disk drive market -- an elusive objective that often looks different according to how you measure, for example, volume vs. sales dollars, or server vs. desktop drives.

End-users such as you and me have only an indirect influence on this market, which is mainly affected by the preference (or lack thereof) of OEMs, many of which are identifiable by two- and three-letter acronyms.

Obviously, EMC, HP, and IBM are companies that can make or break the success of a new drive model, and once again are in an enviable position of having several interesting choices in terms of disk products.

In fact, the latest news from Fujitsu and Hitachi are just a start: with small form-factor and serial-attached SCSI drives getting closer to hit the streets, traditional 3.5-inch SCSI drives are beginning to look like old technology.

With that in mind, isn’t it wonderful to see “old technology” drives, such as the new models from Fujitsu and Hitachi, still make news? Doctor Pangloss would be ecstatic, I am sure.

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