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

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3 replies on “Hitachi plans to make super-slim hard drives”

  1. Awesome. So they’re going to sell single platter hard drives? That kind of kills the gigabyte per dollar ratio that hard drives enjoy by at right around one half. That won’t make these drives SSD expensive, but they are going to make them noticeably more expensive than their thicker brethren, probably with minor performance penalties as well…

    I know people are down on SSDs because of their cost, but boy the performance differences they provide make them have to be seen to be believed. Plus their prices should start to plummit now that 22nm flash will start hitting the market in product form very soon. That should double capacities for the same dollar amount (after they’ve been in production awhile of course), which is economic hurdle that I would expect to render these kinds of drives novel flukes.

    I guess what I’m saying is that these look like they will allow ODMs to make some interesting products, but I expect them to get phased out by SSDs fairly soon (1-2 years), and I’m not sure that any sane consumer would really WANT one of these over an SSD or a full height 2.5″ drive unless the device has a very compelling reason for being that thin because there are a lot of trade off’s with this kind of design.

    Therefore I agree with Brad. By the time that the market they’re trying to hit with these drives really begins to materialize at the end of this year, and first half of next, SSDs should be a lot more competitive, which makes these a hard sell as anything but the entry level drive for a device.

    That’s my two cents anyway.

  2. Also, might sneak into some Atom machines that are for business. I can easily see these being offered as ‘options’ in the HP business netbook series.

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