Microdrive Storage Devices

The most popular IBM/Hitachi Microdrives 

IBM began the Microdrive storage device revolution with their first 340MB capacity CompactFlash Type II miniature rotating disk drive. Next came the 512MB Microdrive and then the 1GB Microdrive. The 340MB Microdrive proved to be somewhat problematic and was dropped from production and replaced by the 512MB Microdrive.

At the end of December 2002 Hitachi bought IBM's disk drive business and formed a new Hitachi Global Storage Technologies company. In addition to the desktop and laptop hard drives, Hitachi will also be producing the popular 1-inch Microdrive. Hitachi Global Storage said that it planned to produce a Microdrive with 4 gigabytes of storage. At that time the largest Microdrive that IBM made only held 1 gigabyte of data. The CompactFlash Type II form factor Microdrive is extremely popular in high resolution digital cameras, PDAs and MP3 players. 

Hitachi Microdrives

The 512MB, 1GB and 2GB Microdrives can be used in most digital cameras equipped with a CompactFlash Type II slot or a PC ATA Type II card slot with adapter.

The 4GB, 6GB and 8GB Microdrives need a camera or device that is compatible with the FAT-32 file system to access its capacity beyond 2GB. For more information, click here for a list of compatible digital cameras from Hitachi. 

Hitachi Microdrives Hitachi Microdrives

And they don't call these "micro"drives for nothing - they really are tiny, hard disk drives as you can see from these pictures. 

Hitachi 6GB Microdrive

Feb. 23, 2005 - Users of miniature MP3 players and other storage-demanding handheld consumer electronics can rejoice today as Hitachi Global Storage Technologies begins shipping its 6 gigabyte(a) (GB) one-inch hard drive in high volume. As the leader in one-inch hard drives, Hitachi is raising the stakes by making available the new Microdrive 3K6 with a suggested retail price reduction of up to 60 percent. With 6 GB, the new Microdrive lets consumers carry even more of what they love -- 1500-3000 songs, 6,000 pictures (1 MB each) or 8 hours of MPEG-4 video.

Hitachi 8GB Microdrive

The Hitachi Microdrive 3K8 (aka Mikey) is a 1.0-inch hard drive, featuring a dramatically reduced footprint and power consumption for integration into mobile phones and other ultra-miniature consumer electronic devices. The drive has a maximum capacity of 8GB, and is available exclusively for embedded applications. It features a ZIF connector supporting PATA, CE-ATA, or ATA on MMC interfaces. CE-ATA is a new standard interface for small-form-factor hard drives that addresses the requirements of the handheld and CE market segments, including low pin count, low voltage, power efficiency, cost-effectiveness and integration-efficiency. 

Seagate 4GB and 8GB Photo Drives

Seagate Photo Drives - High-capacity, 1-inch photo hard drives are the perfect storage solution for professional and enthusiast photographers. Available in 4GB and 8GB capacities, you can quickly store thousands of high-resolution photos without changing the card. And with their rugged design and world-renowned Seagate quality, you can count on data integrity and protection from drops and falls.

Ultra-fast 3600-RPM drives with 2-Mbyte cache. Built to last, inside and out, so the drive and data are protected. Designed for digital cameras with a CF+ Type II media slot. Compatible with a wide and growing range of FAT32-formatted digital cameras. 3600-RPM drives with 2-Mbyte cache consistently deliver the high performance you need. 

Sony 5GB CF Type II CompactVault Drive

November 10, 2005 - Sony Electronics Inc. USA, debuted the CompactVault removable hard disk drive that uses Compact Flash type II slots, such as those found in prosumer digital cameras like the new DSC-R1. The new drive is designed for photo enthusiasts and prosumers, says the company.

The CompactVault drive has a capacity of 5GB, offering the increased capacity required for high- quality photos and video. Measuring a little more than 1.5 inches wide and a little less than 1.5 inches high, the Compactvault drive can hold up to 1,600 JPEG images (at 3MB each) or 200 minutes of MPEG4 video. The new drive also features high transfer speeds of up to 12MB/sec. 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1

5GB Compactvault in Cyber-shot DSC-R1

Sony 8GB CF Type II Compact Vault Drive

March 17, 2006 - Sony unveils the 8 Gigabyte version of its Compact Vault series. The new drive is compatible with Compact Flash type II slots, and provides a significant increase in data storage over the current top of the line, the 5GB version. The new Compact Vault drive is an ideal companion to high-end digital cameras, the new drive's 8GB capacity holds up to 2,560 JPEG images (at 3MB each) or 320 minutes of MPEG4 video, and has transfer speeds of up to 12MB per second. The Compact Vault will be available in June with a price of $259. 

Cameras That Can Use The Microdrive

The most current list of compatible digital cameras from Hitachi.

The following are Microdrive-compatible cameras that we have reviewed
(* indicates FAT32 compatible and can use 4GB/6GB Microdrive):

(* indicates the camera is FAT-32 compatible and can also use the new, higher capacity 4GB/6GB/8GB Microdrives) 

Toshiba Enters Guinness World Records Book With The World's Smallest Hard Disk Drive

IRVINE, Calif., Mar. 16, 2004 - Toshiba Storage Device Division (SDD), the industry pioneer in small form factor storage, today announced that Guinness World Records(tm) has certified Toshiba's 0.85-inch hard disk drive (HDD) as the smallest HDD in the world. Toshiba's HDD will be featured in the 2005 edition, scheduled to be on sale in September 2004. The Guinness World Records Book is one of the world's most popular publications, the book most people reach for when they want to confirm outstanding achievements in all walks of life.

Toshiba's 0.85-inch HDD, announced in January 2004, is the first hard disk drive to deliver multi-gigabyte data storage in a sub-one-inch form factor. The 0.85-inch measurement refers to the diameter of the magnetic disk to which data is recorded. With initial capacities of 2 to 4 gigabytes (GB) the drive delivers enhanced storage to smaller, lighter, more efficient products, such as mobile phones, digital camcorders and portable storage devices. Toshiba expects to start sampling the drive in summer 2004 and start mass production in autumn 2004.

"We are very proud that Guinness World Records, one of the world's most famous organizations, has recognized our 0.85-inch HDD as the world's smallest," said Kazuyoshi Yamamori, vice president, storage device division at Toshiba Corporation's headquarters in Japan. "Toshiba is the global leader in small form factor hard disk drives. Our 1.8-inch HDD opened up exciting new applications and markets, including powerful digital audio players, and we expect the 0.85-inch disk to contribute even more. I look forward to seeing the 0.85-inch drive alongside all the other record breakers and winners in the book."

"Hard drive technology has come a long way since the introduction of the very first model in the U.S. in 1956," said David Hawksett, head of science and technology at Guinness World Records. "That model needed 50 two-foot disks to store just 4.4 MB, and the cost was astronomical. Data storage is rarely a topic that excites the public. However, Toshiba's innovation means that I could soon hold more information in my watch than I could on my desktop computer just a few years ago."

Selection for the best-selling book is the latest recognition of Toshiba's achievements as a global leader in small form factor HDDs. Toshiba has consistently led innovation in HDD technology with its 2.5-inch, 1.8-inch and 0.85-inch hard disk drives. Toshiba expects its development of the 0.85-inch HDD to expand the market for miniature drives and will continue to promote innovations that assure its continued leadership in that market. 

Using the Microdrive Above 10,000 FT

The following came directly from IBM Support in answer to a user who was thinking about using the microdrive on a vacation in Napal:
    The Microdrive does need "AIR" to float the heads and typically above 10,000 ft the mass of the air is too low and the drive requires a pressurized environment similar to an aircraft or spacecraft. At high altitude the air bearings begin to loose support from the air molecules needed to provide the "air bearing" for the Negative Air Bearing Surface (NABS) design of the head. If this "air bearing" is removed or lowered (as is the case with low density air at high altitudes) the head damages the media and you could have loss of data. The drive is vented to maintain equal pressure inside and outside to provide the air and to maintain the same pressure. This eliminates the need for sealed and rigid covers that can tolerate pressure differences.

    The OEM Functional specification defines the warranty range for operating altitude as 3,000 M or 9,000 ft (3ft/M). If the customer is mountain climbing with a GPS or digital camera above 9,000 ft the drive might have problems. (Mt Fuji ~ +13,000ft, Mt Raineer ~ +14,000 ft). Please note, this is the operating environment. Non operation at high altitudes, including vacuum, have no ill effects on the microdrive. Within passenger aircraft, the cabin is pressurized to 9-10,000 feet hence the drive would experience no difficulty operating in an aircraft cruising at 35-45,000 ft !