News | June 22, 1999

Seagate Debuts SeaStream Technology

In a move targeting the burgeoning video disk recorder (VDR) market, Seagate Technology (London) today debuted its SeaStream technology that enables disc drives to deliver a compatible data transfer rate required for audio/video programming on television sets, stereo systems, and other home entertainment devices, without sacrificing any of the data integrity that is expected from consumer devices that also record Internet content or other computer data.

SeaStream allows the user to potentially record two television programs, watch a movie, listen to a favorite musical, play a car racing game, and browse the web simultaneously, all from the same home entertainment storage device. This is because users of SeaStream-enabled recording devices have the potential ability to record and/or play back several different channels, such as television shows, music, and game console programs, simultaneously.

Viewers could also immediately jump to any point within a program or between programs without the usual search time delay of tape- and cassette-based systems.

Video disk recorders from TiVo and Replay are already on the market in the US. DirecTv has invested in TiVo and EchoStar is preparing the launch of its DishPlayer VDR that combines the DBS provider's content with WebTV Internet offerings in one unit. Like TiVo, DishPlayer has a hard drive allowing viewers to store up to eight hours of digital video and pause programming for up to 30 minutes.

SeaStream says its technology is superior to other technologies in several respects:

  • It is introducing an open interface specification for SeaStream. Seagate plans to propose a set of A/V extensions for disc drives to the AT Standards Committee later this month.
  • It enables drives to simultaneously support both data and A/V operations, meeting the data integrity requirements for computer data and the time-critical performance requirements for A/V content.
  • It adjusts on-the-fly for both kinds of information streams. This allows SeaStream-enabled recording devices to provide both A/V and Internet-based content from the same disc drive, a feature that is likely to be required on many future consumer devices.

SeaStream also addresses other issues that are critical to the growing adoption of disc drives in consumer electronics. Rather than singularly focusing on sustained data transfer rate requirements, SeaStream enables hard drive-based home electronics to tackle such key matters as lowered acoustics and power consumption.

Drives embedding SeaStream technology will be available to development partners this summer, and the technology is scheduled for integration into Seagate's next-generation consumer disc drives.