4GB mobile phone just around the corner

Cornice has put 4GB on a $65, 2.5cm-thick disk drive and has also claimed leadership in drive density, durability and affordability

Fresh from reaching a partial settlement with rival Seagate, Cornice has launched a 2.5cm disk drive that will fit easily into mobile phones, GPRS devices or very small MP3 devices but has a substantial 4.0 GB capacity.

It is the first product the company has launched since its lawsuit was settled with Seagate in May. Under the terms of the agreement, Cornice agreed to cease production of 1.0GB, 1.5GB and 2.0GB drives.

The new Storage Element features a new architecture that lowers cost by using only one side of the disk for storage and removing surplus components. This reduces space, weight and complexity.

It also features Crash Guard II, a set of features designed to improve reliability. These include Active Latch, which locks down the drive whenever it is not actively seeking data and Drop Safe.

According to Cornice, Drop Safe can detect if the drive has been dropped and, if the drive head are moving, stop it and move the head away from the surface of the drive. It is "tuned to respond in as little a distance as four inches," the company says. If the device is to be successful in markets like the market for mobile phones, the drive, and especially the sensitive drive surface, will need to be resistant to rough handling.

"The market is demanding increasing capability in ever smaller devices," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group, in a statement. "The ideal capacity for most of these devices, today, is 4.0GB because it provides the best balance between capacity and manageability."

Several mobile phone manufacturers are working to include hard drives in their handsets, including Samsung which launched a smartphone with a 1.5GB hard drive late last year.

The 4.0GB SE with Crash Guard II technology will be available in July 2005 at $65 (£37) per unit in quantities of 10,000.