One of the advantages of using a solid state disk instead of a hard drive is that it lets you build thinner laptops. SSDs don’t need the same kind of cooling as hard drives, and they can generally be thinner as well. But you still get a lot more storage for your buck with hard drives, which come in capacities up to 2TB or more. Good luck finding a 256GB SSD that doesn’t cost a small fortune.
Now Hitachi is preparing to launch a line of hard drives that’s not just cheaper than an equivalent SSD — it’s also super-thin. The new hard drives will be just a 0.27 inches thick, which is about 26% thinner than most laptop hard drives on the market today.
The new Hitachi Z-series drives will be available with up to 320GB of storage space.They’ll be available in 7200rpm and 5400rpm varieties and should hit the streets in July and Auust.
There’s no word on pricing yet, but my guess is these new drives aren’t going to come cheap. I suspect we’ll see them in thin and light laptops with ULV processors rather than Atom-powered netbooks at first. That’s not because you couldn’t use the hard drives with a smaller laptop or a slower processor, but because it’ll probably be easier to convince someone who was going to spend $500 to $800 on an ultrathin laptop to spend a little extra cash on an even thinner machine than it will be to convince a netbook buyer to spend a premium for a device with an Atom CPU.
Update: As my buddy Lee reminded me, Hitachi isn’t the first hard drive maker to think thin. In December, Seagate announced it would start building 16.5mm/0.65 inch hard drives. They’re not quite as thin as Hitachi’s new models, but they’re still thinner than your average hard drive.
via Computer World