Hitachi GST has announced an enterprise version of its 1TB consumer Deskstar drive, which could herald a new round of competition in the high-end hard drive market.

It's been given a 1.2 million hours between failure rating and is a Serial ATA drive spinning at 7,200rpm. It's also announced an enterprise 300GB 15,000rpm drive. Both of these are in the 3.5-inch form factor.

Competitor Seagate has a 300GB Fibre Channel drive at the enterprise level, but not a SATA one. Its DiamondMax line has a 320GB SATA drive but that is classed as a desktop drive, not an enterprise one.

Thirdly, Hitachi GST has announced an enterprise SAS (serial-attached SCSI) 2.5-inch drive, the form factor Seagate is pushing for increased disk shelf I/O and reduced power, with 147GB capacity and a 10,000rpm spin speed. This matches Seagate's 10,000rpm Savvio 2.5-inch drive but Seagate also has 15,000rpm 2.5-inch product at 36 and 73GB capacity points.

Samsung has recently announced a notebook-class 200GB 2.5-inch drive spinning at 7,200rpm with a 250GB version coming along in 6-12 months. Samsung does not have an enterprise-class 2.5-inch product.

It's hard to get both high capacity and a high spin speed. For any given recording technology and density, as spin speed goes up capacity generally falls. Any supplier that can achieve higher rotation speeds at existing capacity levels has an edge over its competitors. That's what Seagate has achieved with its 15,000rpm Savvio products.

Hard disk drive market analysts at Baird report that Seagate is seeing strong adoption of its 2.5-inch enterprise drives, and see strong customer demand, reflected by strong OEM demand on Seagate, for fast drives that fit into the blade server form factor. They also think that Seagate competitors Fujitsu and Hitachi will be slow to follow with competitive products.

Today's Hitachi 10,000rpm 2.5-inch drive announcement, lagging Seagate's 15,000rpm Savvio product, supports the Baird view. The net effect is that 10,000rpm 2.5-inch drives are under stronger price competition, meaning lower prices, than 15,000rpm ones.

Overall, the three announcements by Hitachi GST means competition in the enterprise disk drive product space remains high and prices generally will not rise.