Seagate releases industry's thinnest 2TB laptop drive

Greater platter density will translate into lower cost per gigabyte of capacity

Seagate today announced it is shipping its highest density laptop drive, a standard 9.5mm thick model with up to 2TB of capacity.

Manufactured in China under its Samsung hard disk drive (HDD) division, the 5400rpm Spinpoint M9T drive has the highest platter density of any 2.5-in form factor drive to date. Each platter has 667GB of capacity.

According to Samsung, the M9T boasts a data transfer rate of 169MB/s with an average latency of 5.6 microseconds.

The M9T drive is also available in a 1.5TB model. Both the 2TB and 1.5TB drive models use a 6Gb/s SATA interface.

M9T
The Spinpoint M9T 2TB laptop drive.

"We know storage is growing in the cloud, but this product line is addressing the growth in two areas: In the PC client space... and the external drive space," said Darcy Clarkson, Seagate's vice president of global sales and marketing. "The average [capacity] shipped today is a little under 600GB. By 2016, it's approaching 900GB. So, it's going to be growing by 30% in the next three to four years,"

While there are 2TB laptop drives today, they come in 12.5mm and 15mm form factors, which are around a half in inch thick. At 9.5mm, the M9T is about .37-in thick. Laptop drives are standard in 7mm and 9.5mm form factors.

"The industry has built three- and four-platter drives before, but typically a three-disk drive would be in a 12.5mm thickness and a four-disk drive would be in a 15mm thickness," said Dave Frankovich, a product line manager for Seagate. "So they kind of got relegated to external drives at that thickness. This is really the first time you're seeing this capacity in the mainstream 9mm form factor."

The biggest roadblock to creating denser disk technology lies in the read/write head. As bits of data are made smaller and smaller, it becomes more difficult to keep read/write heads stable enough to read the data on the disk platter.

Seagate was able to increase its platter areal density -- adding yet a third platter into its drive -- by creating a dual-stage actuator head; one head is used for read/writes, the other for keeping the actuator arm stable and on track.

The M9T drives uses an average of 2.3 watts of power during read/write operations and .7 watts of power while idle, Seagate said.

While Seagate would not release pricing for the drive, as it will be sold to equipment manufacturers, the cost per gigabyte will go down when compared to previous 2.5-in drives, Clarkson said.

Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at  @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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