Hard Drives In Cell Phones Talked Up By Chipmakers - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Business & Finance

Hard Drives In Cell Phones Talked Up By Chipmakers

Some chipmakers are exploring how to incorporate drives into phones, though not everyone thinks that will happen soon.

SAN JOSE, Calif.--Cellular phones are poised to take yet another step in silicon integration by packing hard-disk drives into their electronics. At least three companies are at some stage of exploring such designs, though several sources expressed doubts about when and at what pace hard disks will appear in cell phones.

The possibility of hard drives coming to the 500 million-unit-per-year cell market is particularly attractive to Agere Systems Inc., which generates a third of its revenue in storage silicon. "We can see a convergence of hard-disk drives and mobile electronics," says Matthew Kendall, a senior product-marketing manager.

The company is expected today to reveal a line of chips geared for 1-inch and smaller drives as a cost- and space-saving measure intended to get the small drives into handsets.

This is a "reasonable thing for Agere to do," says Will Strauss of analyst firm Forward Concepts. "This won't become a major part of the cell-phone market, but it could be a lucrative one."

Separately, 1-inch-drive startup Cornice Inc. has disclosed that its next-generation drives will hand off some processing to a host CPU as part of a simplified design for consumer systems. The drives will appear in several high-end cell phones next year, according to Cornice.

Agere is expected to reveal in a few weeks a deal with Cornice that may involve its parts. "We have a relationship with them," confirms Curt Bruner, chief technology officer of Cornice.

Engineers have some technical concerns, but the biggest problem is determining whether enough handsets are ready to adopt drives to justify the costs, Bruner says. At a recent conference on camera phones, Mike Butler, a director of business strategy in Nokia's imaging group, said that disk drives still draw too much power and are too unreliable to be embedded in mainstream cell phones.

"Our feeling is when the first phones come out with embedded hard drives, they will be so compelling that other major providers will quickly follow," Bruner says.

"It's pretty clear in the long run [hard-drive] support will be required," says Avner Goren, manager of the Omap line of cellular processors at Texas Instruments Inc. However, he says TI isn't ready to reveal its plans in this area.

Agere already supplies parts to 1-inch-drive makers Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and startup GS MagicStor. Strauss of Forward Concepts says its baseband chips are used by Samsung and NEC.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
News
How to Create a Successful AI Program
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  10/14/2020
News
Think Like a Chief Innovation Officer and Get Work Done
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  10/13/2020
Slideshows
10 Trends Accelerating Edge Computing
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  10/8/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
[Special Report] Edge Computing: An IT Platform for the New Enterprise
Edge computing is poised to make a major splash within the next generation of corporate IT architectures. Here's what you need to know!
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll