Seagate has unveiled new hard drives that it expects to launch in the second half of the year, including its first 1-inch drive for portable consumer electronics devices.

Seagate anticipates the new drives will expand its range so that it competes in 95 per cent of the estimated $22 billion per year global hard-disk drive storage market, according to Takeshi Kobayashi, president of Seagate Japan. At present the company estimates it competes in about 70 per cent of the market.

Seagate's 1-inch drive plans make it the second major hard disk drive maker to enter this part of the market, which is currently dominated by Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST) and its MicroDrive products. Other companies making such drives include Chinese start-up GS Magicstor and Colorado-based Cornice.

At present the drives are almost exclusively used embedded into digital music players or in a Compact Flash (CF) form-factor case in high-end digital-still cameras. Apple uses HGST's drive in its recently launched iPod mini music player and Cornice has found a number of customers for its drive, including iRiver and Digitalway for use in MP3 players.

Seagate expects to launch its 1-inch drive in the third quarter of this year and will offer it in two versions, one for embedded use and one in a CF case. The drive will come in two capacities: 2.5GB and 5GB. That could put Seagate ahead of its competitors in terms of size. The current highest capacity 1-inch drive available is the 4GB model from HGST used in iPod mini.

Wednesday's announcement also included products aimed at existing sectors of the market, including the fast-growing consumer digital video recorder and core computing sectors.

The DB35 series consists of three drives and is aimed at the digital video recorder and home media server market. The drives have capacities of 250GB, 300GB and 400GB. In the case of the highest-capacity drive, this works out to up to 400 hours of standard-definition television or 44 hours of high-definition television, according to Seagate, although recording time depends on the amount of compression used. The 7,200rpm drives will be available with ATA or Serial ATA (SATA) interface in the third quarter.

Desktops and laptops
Also announced were three new drives intended for use in desktop and notebook personal computers.

For notebooks, the company announced the Momentus 5400.2 and Momentus 7200.1 products. The former are 5,400rpm ATA drives intended for use in mainstream notebooks and the latter are 7,200rpm ATA and Serial ATA (SATA) drives aimed at workstation-class machines. Both are available in 60GB, 80GB and 100GB capacities. The slower drives will be available in the third quarter and the faster drives in the fourth quarter.

For desktop personal computer and entry-level RAID server use the company also announced the Barracuda 7200.8 series, which will be available in ATA or SATA versions in capacities of 250GB, 300GB and 400GB. They are expected in the third quarter.

Seagate is also planning a range of three USB external-drive products based on the previous drives. Models based on the 1-inch and 2.5-inch products will be available in the third quarter and models based on the 3.5-inch drive in the fourth quarter. The company also announced a series of enterprise products.

The new range comes on the heels of the company's announcement last week that it plans to lay off about 7 per cent of its global workforce, or about 2,900 employees, as part of a restructuring. The company is looking to reduce its operating costs by $150 million this year as part of the plan.