Fujitsu has developed and begun mass production of a 100GB hard drive suitable for notebooks.

The company began making the drive in late March this year and its entire initial output has been snapped up by notebook makers, said Joel Hagberg, vice president of marketing at Fujitsu Computer Products of America. Now the company is beginning to accept orders from more notebook makers and so it is announcing the development of the drive, he said.

"We launched in late March and early April with some major notebook makers," he said. "In June we are opening the doors up to other customers. Any notebook shipping with a 100GB hard disk has a Fujitsu drive."

Dell and Hewlett-Packard both offer a 100GB hard-disk drive as an option to buyers of their notebooks.

The MHU2100AT drive has a 4,200rpm (revolutions per minute) rotational speed and comes with a parallel ATA interface, said Hagberg.

Several of Fujitsu's competitors have also announced development of 100GB drives and plan to ship them in the second half of this year.

Toshiba said in April it intends to ship a 4,200rpm drive in the third quarter and last week Seagate Technology announced two 100GB 2.5-inch drives as part of a new line-up of products. Seagate is planning to introduce a 5,400rpm drive during the third quarter and a 7,200rpm drive during the fourth quarter, it said.

Sales explosion
Development of the higher-capacity drives comes as the notebook computer share of the US retail personal computer market has grown. For the week ending May 29, notebook sales accounted for 56 per cent of the entire US personal computer market, according to figures from Current Analysis.

That's the first time that notebook sales have been higher than those for desktops, said Sam Bhavnani, a senior analyst covering mobile computing at the company. Furthermore, the company expects notebook sales to surpass those of desktop PCs in the US retail market for calendar year 2005.

Higher demand for the drives from notebook PC vendors and companies making consumer electronics devices has pushed drive makers to expand their production capacity.

Fujitsu increased automation at its factory in Thailand to enable it to increase production and that in turn helped it grab a larger slice of the 2.5-inch drive market in the first quarter of this year as compared to the fourth quarter of last year, said Hagberg.

Fujitsu was the third-largest manufacturer of 2.5-inch hard disk drives for the mobile market in the first quarter of this year, according to figures cited by Hagberg from market research company Gartner.

It had an 18.5 per cent share of the 13.7 million-drive market behind Toshiba at 29.6 per cent and Hitachi Global Storage Technologies at 44.7 per cent, according to Gartner. That represents an increase in shipments of around 300,000 drives over the fourth quarter of 2003, when Fujitsu had a 15.0 per cent share of a 14.7 million-drive market, according to the figures.

Looking at the current quarter and ahead, Hagberg said the company has been hit by some softness in the market for 2.5-inch hard disk drives. Other hard-disk drive makers have also reported similar conditions which Hagberg said are down to oversupply and seasonal factors.

Fujitsu is planning to expand its market share in the coming months by concentrating on Serial ATA (SATA) hard disk drives. The company claims to be the only company capable of supplying a 2.5-inch hard disk drive with a SATA interface at present and two notebook makers are currently looking at launching notebooks using the drive, said Hagberg.