iVDR: consumer disposable hard drives

Rohit Khare rohit@ics.uci.edu
Fri, 10 Jan 2003 02:12:14 -0800

Anyone else going to CES -- I'd love to, but it looks like it will take  
until Sunday to get there... RK


Removable hard-disk system to be unveiled at CES

By Kuriko Miyake, IDG News Service
DECEMBER 27, 2002

A consortium of companies developing a removable hard-disk system for  
consumer use called the Information Versatile Disk for Removable usage  
(iVDR) plans to unveil a prototype 1.8-in. drive with a serial ATA  
interface for the first time at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)  
next month, an iVDR consortium representative said this week.

The iVDR system will be shown outside of Japan for the first time at  
the event, which will take place in Las Vegas in January.

At CES, three prototypes are expected to be showcased, including a  
2.5-in. iVDR disk with a parallel ATA interface, and 2.5- and 1.8-in.  
iVDR drives with faster and less costly serial ATA interfaces, said  
Toshiaki Hioki, a consortium representative at Sanyo Electric Co. The  
drives will be shown at the booth of Hitachi Global Storage  
Technologies, the new hard disk drive company established by Hitachi  
Ltd. after it acquired IBM's hard-disk unit in June (see story).

Alongside the prototype disks, several devices supporting iVDR from  
other consortium members will be exhibited, including a PC, a drive and  
a television.

The iVDR removable hard disk was proposed by eight electronics  
companies -- Canon Inc., Fujitsu Ltd., Hitachi, Phoenix Technologies  
Ltd., Pioneer Corp., Sanyo, Sharp Corp. and Victor Company of Japan  
Ltd. -- which formed the consortium in March. The group now has 28  
members, including hard disk drive makers Maxtor Corp. and Seagate  
Technology LLC, Hioki said.

By standardizing, promoting and licensing the new swappable, removable  
hard-disk system, the consortium members hope to solve two problems,  
said Hioki.

One problem is that as maximum hard disk drive capacity doubles each  
year, consumers must keep buying new products to keep up with the  
latest drive technology.

The other is that as hard-disk vendors keep adding more data capacity  
to their products, the prices of the top-of-the-line hard disk drives  
aren't dropping considerably. Therefore, products that include the  
latest drives aren't becoming much cheaper.

Since the establishment of the consortium, the members first developed  
the 2.5-in. iVDR drive and released basic specifications for hardware,  
a parallel ATA interface and file formats for the development of  
computer peripherals, Hioki said.

The consortium is now working on the establishment of specifications  
for the newer serial ATA interface for the 2.5-in. iVDR disk and also  
for the 1.8-in. iVDR disk. This smaller hard disk is expected to be  
adopted in applications such as car navigation systems and audio  

The serial ATA interface specifications for both sizes are expected to  
be released after they are approved by the consortium members at a  
general meeting in March.

Serial ATA offers some benefits over parallel ATA. It offers a data  
transmission speed of 150M bit/sec. and above, compared with up to 100M  
bit/sec. for the parallel system. For equipment designers, it is also  
easier to work with because cables are simpler and voltage requirements  
are lower.

The 1.8-in. iVDR will be slightly thinner than a 2.5-in. iVDR disk,  
which measures 130mm wide by 80mm deep by 12.7mm high. That would allow  
the 1.8-in. disk to be fitted into a 2.5-in. slot with an adapter,  
Hioki said.

Currently, an iVDR disk can hold up to 80GB of data, a capacity  
expected to be doubled by the first quarter, and typically costs  
anywhere from $166 to $249, Hioki said. "This price may be acceptable  
for a computer peripheral, but not for consumer electronics," he said.

For consumer electronics, such as a video recorder, the consortium aims  
to reduce the disk price to be less than $83, Hioki said.

"I hope we can attract many computer peripheral makers at CES, so that  
the iVDR system will start spreading and be used in personal computers  
first. This will reduce the price of the hard disk and eventually will  
allow consumer electronics to be equipped with an iVDR slot," Hioki  

One more hurdle to clear for iVDR in the use of consumer electronics is  
that of a copyright protection format. The consortium plans to approach  
the movie industry soon and hopes to complete the standardization of  
its copy protection code by March, Hioki said.


"iVDR " stands for Information Versatile Disk for Removable usage, a  
lightweight, compact, removable hard disk drive compatible with a wide  
range of applications from AV to PC devices. iVDR has the large  
capacity and fast random access typical of Hard Disk drives. Using  
multiple iVDR will allow easy construction of servers with TB (Tera  
Bytes) capacity. Through the use of the iVDR will for the first time be  
able to achieve a next generation large capacity data platform  
compatible with a wide range of devices such as AV and PC devices.

iVDR is not limited to only Hardware, file system and interface  
specifications but also standardizes industry specifications for  
application data formats and security achieving a next generation large  
capacity data platform for common use in AV devices and PC's.

*	Technical Specification

Hardware Specification
physical specifications of 2.5-inch removable hard disk drive,  
Connector specifications for iVDR.
Interface Specification
ATA command, Expansion AV command, Expansion security command (option)
File System Specification
File system for iVDR.

Looking ahead to the future, the consortium plans on developing  
application data format and content security specifications for the  
realization of mutually compatible data for a variety of applications.

*	Hardware Specification (2.5-inch disk)

Size (W x D x H)	130mm x 80mm x 12.7mm
Shockproof	More than 900G (when not running)
Connector Specifications	Connector for iVDR 50 pin
Connector durability	connect/disconnect 10,000 times
Command	ATA Standard + AV Expansion + Secure Expansion (option)
A 1.8-inch iVDR disk will also be studied.