Iomega will launch two removable magnetic-based storage formats in the first half of 2004, one for small and medium enterprises and the other for consumers.

Iomega's first launch will be the Removable Rigid Disk (RRD). This will offer a capacity of 35GB per cartridge and is aimed at small and medium enterprises, said Scott Sheehan, vice president of business development at Iomega. The cartridge contains the media platter and spindle motor parts of a hard disk while the drive includes the read/write head, eject mechanism and interface.

"We see potential for RRD in a number of areas, primarily as tape replacement in small and medium businesses where tape is currently used for backup and recovery," he said.

Sheehan said RRD will offer potential users a number of advantages over other tape and optical disc-based backup formats because it will combine the speed and performance of a hard-disk drive with portability.

Iomega claims an average data transfer rate of 18MB/s. File-access time is similarly fast at around 13 milliseconds.

"What this means to small system business users is that a typical 20GB back-up will take 20 minutes instead of two hours," he said.

RRD is a bootable format and Iomega has developed a system called "boot and run" that will make it possible to launch a system directly from a backup in the event of a system failure, said Sheehan.

"We will announce the product at Comdex," he said referring to the Comdex 2003 trade show that will take place in Las Vegas from November 17. It's scheduled to ship in the first quarter 2004. Drives will cost $349 with each 35GB cartridge costing between $39 and $49. UK pricing has yet to be announced.

Pocket Zip successor

Digital Capture Technology (DCT) is the second format to come from Iomega. DCT disks are around 5cm in diameter and look similar to the company's now-defunct Pocket Zip, or Clik, disks, but can hold much more data. First-generation versions will have a capacity of 1.5GB compared to the 40MB of Pocket Zip. Drives will be available for integration either into products or, like the earlier Pocket Zip format, in a card form factor that can be plugged into a personal computer or other device.

The system is aimed at digital consumer electronics and Iomega is already in discussion with a number of such companies, said Sheehan. He declined to reveal the identity of the companies, but said that possible products include digital camcorders, portable video players, portable music players and devices with PC Card slots such as televisions.

DCT will be launched at the Consumer Electronics Show, which is scheduled to take place in Las Vegas in January next year, and Iomega expects to commercially launch the format in the latter part of the second quarter. The PC Card drives are expected to cost around $149 and disks will cost around $10 each, said Sheehan.

Iomega's roadmap for the technology calls for disk capacity to double within two years of launch and double again within two years after that, he said. The company is also looking at smaller form factors, such as Compact Flash, based on the same technology. As a minimum, Iomega expects a CF version would have a capacity of 1GB if commercialized, he said.