No roundup would be complete without outlining what's "just around the corner" for those willing to wait . In a month or two, Maxtor will join IBM at the 15 GB/platter plateau with its 3-platter DiamondMax Plus 45. The Plus 45 is the first drive from Maxtor that's officially specified with a seek time under 9 milliseconds.
A month later, watch for the Quantum Fireball Plus AS. Instead of joining Big Blue at 15 GB/platter, Quantum has decided to leapfrog the competition, promising a 7200 RPM ATA drive that packs a whopping 20 gigs on a single platter. Also intriguing is Quantum's limited debut of fluid-bearing motors. They'll be available for a nominal increase in cost. Quantum indicates that the AS will be the first Fireball Plus designed "from the ground up" for the ATA interface rather than being a SCSI drive retrofit into an ATA chassis. We're not sure if this will be a good or bad thing. Hopefully the AS will keep intact the Fireball Plus franchise's stellar access time.
Though they have yet to make an official announcement, we expect Seagate to also be at the forefront. They've skipped 15 gigs per disk with their recently announced U5 citing lack of industry demand; their next-generation 7200 RPM product will likewise do the same. We've heard nothing about next-generation units from Fujitsu and Western Digital. We expect them to remain competitive, however, announcing 15 GB/platter units in the near future. Finally, we come to the inscrutable IBM. They may very well rest on their laurels for now. After all, they've been shipping a 15 GB/platter unit for a couple months now. Big Blue's known to occasionally sit out on a generation of units. Just as 20 GB/platter units start to ship and make the 75GXP passé, we may see IBM announce the first drive featuring 27 GB/platter. Who knows? Time will tell!