Cornice has produced a 3GB version of its one-inch storage drive which will be available from early next year.

The new "Storage Element" drive is destined for consumer electronics products and offers more capacity than existing models and greater shock protection to protect it from being damaged if the device containing it is dropped. It will be officially unveiled at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in early January.

At present, Cornice offers 1GB, 1.5GB and 2GB versions of the drives, whose customers include Sony and Philips - which use the drives in digital music players - and Samsung, which uses the drive in mobiles.

In addition to the higher capacity, the drive will also feature a small latch to keep the read/write-head arm in place when not in use. Impacts between this head and the disc surface often occur when a drive is dropped and can lead to loss of data or render the drive unusable. Cornice calls the latch system a "crash guard" and says it's much better at protecting the drive than existing methods that it and other companies have employed to date.

"Until this point, if you took a traditional drive from your laptop and did extreme sports, you'd get problems," said David Feller, vice president of marketing at Cornice. Traditional hard drives don't have the protection to survive some of the bangs and bashes that are more common in the consumer electronics market than the personal computer market, he said.

"This is brand new," he said. "In the past we and all our competitors had to ask designers to do special things, like round the corners of the device or put rubber on the outside, but with this they don't have to worry about dropping the drive."

Sample production of the drive began in October and the company expects to begin commercial production in the middle of the first calendar quarter.