Western Digital logoOne 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.

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4 replies on “Western Digital introduces 5mm thick hybrid hard drives for ultrabooks”

  1. I hope WD has much better reliability with their hybrid drives than Seagate. The first generation Seagate Momentus XTs had terrible reliability, they also vibrated too much and ran too hot. The second generation Momentus XTs have had better reliability, but the overall reliability trend of products from the drive manufacturers is not reassuring.

    Despite theoretical problems with SSDs, I’m hoping that being semiconductor based, eventually SSDs will benefit from a version of Moore’s Law and take over from platter storage.

    1. I’m with you. Tablet storage is just a joke right now, for anyone with a good library of videos. Archos is the only company who caters to that particular demographic. I would love to see an Asus Transformer (or equivalent) with 64gb in the tablet section and a 250gb-500gb slim hard drive in the keyboard dock.

      And once Moore’s Law kicks in for SSDs, most tablets should be sold in the 500gb range. I have yet to understand the purpose of a gorgeous high-def display on a tablet with 8gb-16gb of storage. How often do people really watch a small collection of high-def movie trailers? Are there really so few customers with large collections of offline content?

  2. I think the general, non-tech public would have a hard time grasping the fact solid state disks are not hard drives, although I am glad you make the distinction on your blog.

    1. Not that this blog shouldn’t try, but I suspect the general, non-tech public has very little need or desire to know the difference 🙂

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