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Quantum Corporation

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Founded in 1980, Quantum Corporation designs and manufactures storage products designed for today's digitized world. The largest global supplier of hard disk drives, Quantum is also widely recognized as the industry's quality leader. Storage products are the "parking lots" on the Information Superhighway which make it possible for computer users to create and capture the data, images and sounds that are at the heart of the Information Revolution.

Quantum sells a broad range of storage products to OEM and distribution customers worldwide. The company's sales for the fiscal year ending March 1996 were $4.4 billion.


One of the highest volume global suppliers of hard disk drives, Quantum supplies a broad range of information storage products for personal computers, workstations, high-end computers, network servers, and disk arrays.

Headquartered in Milpitas, California, the company had approximately 11,000 employees worldwide at March 31, 1997. Quantum's manufacturing partner, Matsushita-Kotobuki Electronics Industries, Ltd. (MKE) has plants dedicated to Quantum hard disk drive production in Japan, Ireland and Singapore. Quantum and MKE share joint ownership of a recording heads company that has operations in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts; Louisville, Colorado; and Batam, Indonesia. In addition, Quantum operates its own tape drive and solid state disk drive manufacturing facilities in Shrewsbury and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Quantum's success in the marketplace has been driven by a focus on consistent execution. The company has earned a reputation for high-quality products, the ability to ramp production quickly, and responsiveness in working with customers. We believe these strengths, along with Quantum's business model–built on its manufacturing partnership with MKE, position the company to address the opportunities in the exciting market for mass storage products.

Quantum matches the best storage solutions to clearly defined customer needs. The company's mass storage products include high-performance, high-quality 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch hard disk drives; tape drives and solid state disks. The company's products are supplied to domestic and international original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), commercial and industrial distributors, small OEMs, systems integrators, value-added resellers, dealers and retailers. Quantum's storage solutions are focused on the largest and fastest-growing computer markets:

  • Entry-level to high-end desktop PCs
  • Workstations, servers, disk arrays and minicomputers

Quantum attributes much of its success to its OEM customers, which include the leading personal computer manufacturers. Quantum's largest OEM partners are Apple Computer, AST Research, Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, Digital, Hewlett-Packard and IBM. Other domestic and international OEM partners include Acer, Apricot, AT&T/NCR, Fujitsu, ICL, Lucky Goldstar, Samsung, NEC, Olivetti, Peacock, Siemens, Unisys and V­Tech.

In June 1996, Quantum entered the rapidly growing retail sales channel, giving consumers direct access to the same high-quality hard disk drives that are the top choice of leading computer manufacturers around the world. Quantum's retail offerings target PC owners who want to upgrade the capacity of their computer systems to store large multimedia, digital video, Internet files and 32-bit operating systems and applications. Three hard disk drives with fast ATA-2 interfaces are available: the 5.25-inch Quantum Bigfoot drives with storage capacities of 1.2GB and 2.5GB and the 3.5-inch Fireball TM product at 3.2GB storage capacity. Quantum retail products are available in select stores throughout the United States and Canada through its longtime distribution partners, Ingram Micro Inc. and Globelle.

Quantum does not believe in technology for technology's sake. Instead, the company focuses on features that provide tangible, practical benefits for its customers – technology that enables Quantum's customers to provide superior computer systems to their customers.

  • The first independent supplier to combine magnetoresistive (MR) head and Partial Response Maximum Likelihood (PRML) technologies in a hard disk drive.
  • The first independent supplier to bring advanced MR heads and PRML read channels to a mainstream desktop drive.
  • The first drive vendor to supply Plug-and-Play SCSI firmware, which eliminates the need for manual jumper settings by automatically configuring SCSI peripheral devices for PC users. Quantum also pioneered AT Bus Auto Cable Select™ hardware, the equivalent of Plug-and-Play SCSI for AT drives.
  • The first independent hard drive supplier to break the 528 megabyte (MB) barrier on AT drives running under DOS/Windows. Quantum's floppy disk-based firmware, activated as part of the normal drive installation process, provides access to the drive's full formatted capacity. Quantum drives also support Logical Block Address (LBA) and extended cylinder head addressing methods in overcoming the 528MB constraint.
  • The first small form factor SCSI drives.
  • DisCache®, WriteCache® and MultiCache™ firmware for faster data throughput, and AutoWrite™ and AutoRead™ ASIC hardware for reduced command overhead in writes and sequential reads.
  • The first AT drives to implement Fast Multiword DMA, a feature that allows data to be transferred as fast as 16.6 megabytes per second (MB/sec).
  • The first to patent the new protocol, Ultra DMA/33, an ATA/IDE hard disk drive interface that doubles the current burst data transfer rate to 33 megabytes (MB) per second.

Through the acquisition of a majority share of Rocky Mountain Magnetics, Quantum has direct access to MR head technology. The incorporation of MR head technology into its drives enables Quantum to increase areal density (i.e., the number of data bits per square inch available for recording) and reduce cost per megabyte by putting more data under a single head.

In addition to Quantum's product development teams, internal research and development groups and ASIC design groups help Quantum stay at the technological forefront. The Advanced Products Engineering group is chartered to develop state-of-the-art components and technologies that Quantum's design teams can leverage, while the Advanced Recording Technology group works to ensure Quantum's leadership in areal density. Quantum's ASIC capabilities are one of its greatest technological assets. The ASIC design group focuses on proprietary controller and interface technology.


Product Summaries

Desktop PCs

By offering drives in mainstream capacities with leading performance and high reliability, Quantum has captured and continues to maintain worldwide unit volume leadership in 3.5-inch hard drives.

Quantum's latest offerings include the Quantum Bigfoot family of 5.25-inch drives, unique products with 1.2 to 6.4 gigabytes (GB) of storage. These drives give home PC users the most economical high-capacity desktop storage solution in the industry.

The Quantum Fireball family of 3.5-inch drives, including the Fireball TM series in capacities from 1.0GB to 3.8GB and the Fireball ST series in capacities from 1.6GB to 6.4GB are also available. The Fireball family of drives are targeted for use in power and corporate PCs as well as entry-level workstations and servers. The Quantum Fireball drive family delivers more storage to powerful CPUs and complex operating systems and applications. By combining MR head and PRML read channel technologies, the family offers leading areal density and innovative technology for capacity-hungry desktop systems and servers.

The Quantum Pioneer SG drives are available in 1.0 GB and 2.1GB capacities, and are Quantum's first drives with proximity recording head technology. These affordable drives fulfill the storage needs of corporate and small office/home office computer users.

Workstations, servers, disk arrays and minicomputers

The Quantum Viking (7,200 RPM) hard disk drive family combines workstation-class performance with PC-class prices, thus meeting the needs of one of the fastest-growing segments of the high-end marketplace: workstations and PC-based servers. The drives feature capacities of 2.1 and 4.3 gigabytes (GB) with MR heads and PRML read channels. They have an exceptionally high internal data rate of 74 to 120 megabits per second. A wide selection of Ultra SCSI-3 interfaces provide burst data transfer rates as fast as 40MB per second.

The Quantum Viking II (7,200 RPM) hard disk drive is the first product with the New Ultra-2 low voltage differential (LVD) SCSI-3 interface that doubles the system bandwidth up to 80MB/sec. In capacities of 4.5 and 9.1GB, the Viking II is ideal for low-profile applications such as workgroup servers and desktop workstations.

The Quantum Atlas II (7,200 RPM) hard disk drives provide the capacity performance and fault-tolerance required by high-end systems such as video and database servers, RAID subsystems, mid-range workstations and mini-computers. Offered in formatted capacities of 9.1, 4.3 and 2.1GB, the Atlas II drives include leading-edge technologies such as MR heads, Ultra SCSI-3 and fibre channel interfaces to meet the needs of the high-end marketplace.

The Quantum Atlas III (7,200 RPM) hard disk drive offers exceptional performance and a leading capacity up to 18.2GB for storage-intensive applications such as data warehousing. The Atlas III also has the broadest interface availability with New Ultra-2 LVD SCSI-3 interface, Ultra single-ended SCSI-3 and Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL). The Quantum Atlas II and Quantum Viking products are Quantum's first high-end drives to be manufactured by long-term manufacturing partner, MKE. Quantum's innovative designs combined with MKE's process disciplines and manufacturing expertise will ensure these drives offer consistently high levels of quality for Quantum customers.

The award-winning Atlas drives (Multimedia World magazine, Video Toaster User magazine) also target mid-range systems and are particularly suited to a variety of disk-intensive application such as A/V applications. The 1.0, 2.1 and 4.3GB drives spin at 7,200 RPM and offer a minimum sustained data rate of 5MB/second.

Solid State Disks and DLT Tape

The Quantum ESP3000, ESP3053R-V (volatile), ESP3080R-V (volatile) and ESP5000 products are 3.5-inch and 5.25-inch SCSI-2 Solid State Disks (SSDs) that provide lightning-fast data access time – up to 15 times faster than magnetic disk drives. Offered in capacities of 134, 268, 475, and 950MB, the ESP series products enable many applications to realize performance improvements of up to 400 percent with as little as ten percent of their data stored on SSDs.

Quantum's DLT 2000XT, DLT 4000 and DLT 7000 devices are 0.5-inch cartridge streaming tape drives designed for heavy duty cycle computer applications. The Quantum DLT 2000XT tape drive features a native storage capacity of 15GB and a sustained data transfer rate of 1.25MB/second. The Quantum DLT 4000 features a formatted storage capacity of 20GB per cartridge and a sustained data transfer rate of 1.5MB/second. The Quantum DLT 7000 tape drive offers an unparalleled combination of 35GB native capacity and a sustained data transfer rate of 5MB/second.

The Quantum DLTstor autoloader and libraries are designed for high-capacity data backup applications. Each library consists of an elevator mechanism that provides random or sequential cartridge access between a tape drive and cartridge magazines. The libraries and autoloaders are available as 5, 7, and 14 cartridge units.


Technologies Used In Quantum Disk Drives: A glossary

Ultra2 Low Voltage Differential (LVD) SCSI interface-a parallel SCSI interface that permits more drives to be added to the system bus with a corresponding gain in performance. Ultra2 SCSI doubles the bus transfer rate of Ultra SCSI-providing an 80Mbps data pipeline. Ultra2's superior signal integrity supports cable lengths of up to 12 meters, versus 1.5 meters with Ultra SCSI-thereby eliminating one of the biggest barriers to the adoption of high bus bandwidths. Quantum's Atlas III and Viking II drives will be the first drives in the industry to support Ultra2.

Pico sliders-the smallest slider design yet. A slider is the sensitive portion of the read/write head that retrieves data from the disk: the smaller the slider, the more data can be packed onto the disk yet still be accurately read. Over the past 10 years, sliders have shrunk first by 30 percent, then by 50 percent (the "nano slider") The pico slider represents the latest in this miniaturization trend-a 70 percent reduction. The use of pico sliders should also result in yet more reliable drives.

Because they are so small, pico sliders must be assembled using flex interconnect cable (FIC) and chip on ceramic (COC) technology. These new technologies allow the head stack assembly process to be totally automated, replacing the existing manual method of wire soldering or bonding. This in turn results in reduced process variability, improved workmanship, and significantly improved reliability to the end user.

EPRML-Extended Partial Response Maximum Likelihood technology. EPRML further refines PRML, a digital technique for detecting the electronic peaks that characterize computer data as it is read from magnetic media. PRML handles greater densities than the analog peak-detection methods it replaced. EPRML takes advantage of today's lower-cost silicon to handle even greater densities, thereby delivering higher data rates with fewer transmission errors.

XOR (not OR)-a method of detecting errors that helps ensure maximum availability in a RAID subsystem. Ordinarily, parity checking includes a message that says that the data was read or written incorrectly. XOR not only detects an error, but corrects it and regenerates the data.

See Also