The standard desktop PC of 2007 will have a hard drive with a capacity of between 500GB and 600GB, according to Mark Geenen, managing director of research company TrendFocus.

Notebook computers will be fitted with 300GB drives and small drives which can be used in mobile phones and PDAs will be able to store around 20GB.

Speaking at a briefing organised by the International Disk Drive Equipment and Materials Association (IDEMA) here, Geenen reckons there were no serious competitors to current hard drive technology for cost-effective data storage.

"The long-term demand [for storage] is there and this is a historic opportunity for our industry," he says. "The industry is poised for very impressive growth over the next few years."

Optical storage has been around a long time without making any major impact and flash memory is still too expensive, according to Geenen. Other storage technologies are yet to be commercialised. Heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) systems will not be available until 2006 and millipede systems until 2007 or 2008, according to Geenen.

The most immediate advance in storage technology is the move to perpendicular storage of data on hard drives, which will begin to appear later this year.

Perpendicular storage is an evolutionary technology which can be produced using existing production lines. It can provide storage capacities of up to one terabit (1TB) per square inch, which is equivalent to storing 1TB on a single 3.5in disk platter and almost 10 times as much as today's standard longitudinal storage systems.

The disk drive industry will deliver over 300 million hard drives of all kinds in 2004, 16 percent up on the 261 million drives shipped in 2003, according to Geenen.