Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST) is planning to at least double the capacity of its 1-inch Microdrive hard-disk drive within this year.

The small drives are currently finding favour in a growing number of portable consumer electronics devices, such as digital music players, and the greater capacity coupled with a reduction in the space the drives take up should help device makers keep portable multimedia devices small and feature-rich.

At present Hitachi's most capacious Microdrive can hold 4GB of data, but the new drives, due in the second half of this year, will be able to hold between 8GB and 10GB, said Bill Healy, senior vice president of product strategy and marketing at HGST.

In addition to offering more storage space, the drives will also occupy about 20 percent less volume than current models, said Healy. One of the biggest space savings will come from replacing the Compact Flash interface with a ZIF (zero insertion force) connector of the type favoured by consumer electronics makers.

Beyond offering more storage capacity in new generations of the products in which they are now used, the drives could also end up in other types of devices. At present, any device that has to have more than about 5GB of storage requires a larger 1.8-inch drive. The benefits of being able to use a smaller drive are obvious if you consider Apple's iPod and iPod Mini. The former uses a 1.8-inch drive, while the latter uses a 1-inch drive.