Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Tuesday 23/09/2004Jetlagged and jagged, I turn up at Waterloo Station to trek down to Havant, where a chunk of IBM has recently transmogrified into Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. Keen to let the world know that it's not just another company with a silly name, HGST has decided to throw open the doors of its customer support lab to the massed media -- in this case, myself and a bloke from What Laptop And Handheld Gizmo.

Tuesday 23/09/2004
Jetlagged and jagged, I turn up at Waterloo Station to trek down to Havant, where a chunk of IBM has recently transmogrified into Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. Keen to let the world know that it's not just another company with a silly name, HGST has decided to throw open the doors of its customer support lab to the massed media -- in this case, myself and a bloke from What Laptop And Handheld Gizmo.

We sit through the obligatory corporate video -- beacon of innovation, check. World leading inventions, check. Happy pictures of kiddies staring into sky, check -- and thence into a slightly more meaty presentation. Half-terabyte drives due early next year? Four-gigabyte Microdrives? Serial ATA 3? Now, that's more like it.

Then there's a spot of lunch, and into the labs. One of the things HGST does is help out people who want to design hard disks into devices -- and these days, this can mean a lot of gizmos that aren't computers. Which means people who've no experience of mass storage are getting their hands dirty with the things for the first time: mostly, of course, everything just works, but a lot of peculiar things end up in the labs for Hitachi's once-over.

Today, there is a hard disk video recorder designed for surveillance systems in buses, police cars and the ilk, a pocket MP3 player with much more storage than an iPod, a Bang and Olufson hifi, and a Thing from Germany. We cluster around the Thing from Germany, and I have to ask: "That, er, thing. What is it?" It looks like a large chunk of Airbus control panel strapped to half a lawnmower and a large chunk of plywood.

"Errr… we don't know. Can't work it out," says the labs guy. "We guess it's some sort of test equipment, but it's a prototype. Obviously."

Obviously. And then it's on to more prosaic devices, like Serial-ATA RAID arrays, benchmarking tests, reliability evaluation and so on. It's not a small lab, but it's heaving at the seams with test equipment, chassis, cabling and bespectacled bods who know all about the most obscure storage technologies on the planet.

I feel quite at home. We're sent packing with press releases and the promise of lots of nice hard disks to test, so watch this space.