Cornice is adding a 4GB drive to its line of 1-inch "Storage Element" hard-disk drives. But the company is still trailing some of its competitors, who have already released higher-capacity 6GB models

The company said that the new drive will be available this month and will cost US$65 per drive when purchased in quantities of 10,000 units.

Cornice launched its first Storage Element drive in June 2003 with a 1.5GB capacity. The company has since produced 1GB, 2GB and 3GB models. However in May this year it agreed to stop production of all models except the 3GB version as part of a settlement in a patent infringement dispute with competitor Seagate Technology.

The Storage Element drives are designed to be installed in portable electronics devices such as digital music players. Components that are duplicated in the digital media player's main circuitry or not required are removed from the disks, which helps keep them small. This also helps cut costs but makes them proprietary designs, which means products have to be designed with the specific drives in mind.

Companies like Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and Seagate have also slightly modified their 1-inch hard-disk drives so they are smaller, but these remain standard drives. These companies have produced versions with a ZIF interface, which uses a ribbon cable to replace the bulkier CompactFlash interface socket that was used.

The new Cornice drive can withstand shocks better than previous models, the company said. The ability of such small drives to withstand bangs and bashes is typically higher than larger drives. However, because the small drives are used in portable products like music players the shocks they can be subject to are often greater.