One way to keep ultrabooks, tablets, and other portable computers thin is to use tiny solid state disks instead of spinning hard drives. But hard drives are generally cheaper and often come with higher storage capacities.
So some companies are looking at another solution: thinner hard drives. Earlier this year Intel suggested that we could start to see hard disk drives that are just 5mm (about 0.2 inches) thick… and sure enough, Western Digital just introduced one.
Western Digital is now sampling a hybrid hard drive that’s just 5mm high. It’s a 2.5 inch hard drive, which means that it should fit into standard notebooks — but it could also be ideal for ultrabooks and other computers where every millimeter counts.
This is a hybrid disk, which means that it combines a traditional spinning hard drive with some NAND flash storage. The flash storage helps cache files to speed up boot times and general responsiveness.
Western Digital plans to make 5mm disk drives with up to 500GB of storage. While final prices aren’t available, the company says they could cost about one tenth as much as a solid state disk.