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Three-quarters of a terabyte will let consumers store roughly 375 hours of standard TV programming, about 75 hours of high-definition video, more than a half million photos, or more than 10,000 music CDs converted into the MP3 digital audio format.
And by the end of 2007, PCs will have 1-terabyte drives while notebook computers will sport 200-gigabyte drives, suppliers said.
The competing storage medium, flash memory, holds data in tinier packages than hard drives, though at smaller capacities. Flash chips, unlike hard drives, have no moving parts, making them particularly rugged and versatile. It's why people can now tote around reams of documents on USB keychains or work out to their favorite tunes on gizmos as light as a stick of Chapstick.
Continued advances will mean portable gadgets will be able to carry 32 gigabytes of data on fingernail-sized flash memory cards within five years, predicts Eli Harari, chief executive of SanDisk Corp., the world's largest supplier of flash memory storage cards.
Both industries are on a tear.
The hard drive industry hit a record $27.9 billion in worldwide sales in 2005, and IDC predicts record shipments will continue annually, ballooning to $41.5 billion in 2010.