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Cornice to launch 8GB, 10GB small hard drives

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Miniature hard-disk drive maker Cornice Inc. will launch higher-capacity drives at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that begins later this week in Las Vegas, the company said.

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The company's fourth generation drive will be available in 8G byte and 10G byte versions later in the first quarter, said Kevin Magenis, a cofounder of the company, in a telephone interview. The new drive, which like previous models has a 1-inch diameter platter on which data is stored, can not only hold more data but is around 40 percent physically smaller than Cornice's 4G-byte drive, he said.

"When we started almost 20 months ago designing the drive we asked ourselves what are the most important attributes for a next generation product," said Magenis. "Thinness was very popular, as was the X-Y size (the drive's length and width), so we shrunk it down."

The drive measures 30 mm by 40 mm by 3.5 mm.

Cornice is targeting the cell-phone market, which it anticipates will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 325 percent between 2004 and 2009. It expects about 72 million cell phones with embedded drives will be shipped in 2009 out of a global total of around 1 billion handsets.

If that happens the cell phone market will dwarf the personal storage and portable audio player markets, which Cornice expects will stand at 10 million and 43 million shipments respectively in 2009.

Cornice has already seen its hard-disk drives embedded in a cell phone from South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and the company is already seeing demand for the new drive for use in other handsets.

There are half dozen phones based on the new drive that will be in volume production in the first quarter or the second quarter, said Magenis.

International CES runs in Las Vegas, Nevada, from Jan. 5 to 8.

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