IBM today launched three hard disk drive products — the Deskstar 120GXP, the Travelstar 60GH and the Travelstar 40GN — that include its magnetic coating technology, nicknamed 'pixie dust'.

The pixie dust technology, announced by IBM in May, gained its nickname because of the atomic size of the metal used to store data on the hard drive. It is officially called antiferromagnetically coupled (AFC) media, and works by putting a three-atom-thick layer of Ruthenium (Ru) — a precious metal similar to platinum — between two magnetic layers on a disk.

This technology allows hard disk drives to store four times as much data per square inch of disk area as previous hard drives, IBM said in a statement.

IBM predicts that with the pixie dust technology its hard-disk densities will reach 100Gb (gigabits) per square inch by 2003, meaning that its hard drives could come with capacities of 400GB for desktop drives and 200GB for notebooks, IBM said.

IBM's Deskstar 120GXP features a 3.5in desktop hard drive with a 120GB capacity and a speed of 7,200 rpm, the company said. The Travelstar 60GH has 60GB of storage capacity and runs at 5,400 rpm, making it, according to IBM, the highest-capacity, highest-performing 2.5in notebook drive on the market. The 40GN family of 2.5in notebook hard disk drives can offer capacities of 40GB, 30GB, 20GB or 10GB at up to 20GB per disk and spin rates of 4,200 rpm, IBM said.

As an example of pricing the Deskstar 120GXP, which will be made available by the end of the month, is expected to retail at around £240 plus tax. It will also come in smaller capacities for less.