WD shrinks laptop drives to just 5mm thick

The new slim drives offer greater shock resistance for mobile applications

Western Digital is now shipping what it calls the world's slimmest laptop drive series. The drives are just 5mm, or about one-fifth of an inch, thick -- 2mm slimmer than any other 2.5-in form factor drives to date.

WD Blue
The WD Blue Ultra Slim notebook drive.

Most 2.5-in laptop drives are are 9.5mm or 7mm high and have two platters. The new drive has a single, 500GB platter, WD said.

The new drive series includes the WD Blue hard disk drive and WD Black SSHD (solid-state hybrid drive), which combines NAND flash with traditional spinning disk.

Both offer 500GB of storage capacity.

"Our engineering team took a clean-sheet approach with 5 mm to deliver an ultra-thin hard drive that enables a world of possibilities and applications for mobile computing and beyond," Matt Rutledge, vice president of WD's client computing business unit, said in a statement.

The new drives are designed to allow for smaller device slots for netbooks or ultrabooks.

Height comparison
WD's new 5mm drive series.

The 5mm height and a new small form factor SFF-8784 edge connector gives system designers a greater degree of chassis design freedom and reduces weight by up to 36% compared to a standard 9.5mm drive.

WD Blue 5mm hard drives also feature the first application of the SFF-8784 edge connector, which receives power from and connects with the host I/O bus via the SATA interface connector SFF-8784.

The WD Blue and WD Black 5mm drives also sport new operation and non-operation shock specifications offering 400G and 1000G of resilience, respectively.

5mm
A height comparison from left to right: 9.5mm, 7mm and 5mm drives.

One method WD uses to reduce noise and internal vibration is something it calls StableTrac. The motor shaft is secured at both ends to reduce system-induced vibration and stabilize platters for accurate tracking during read/write operations. That also enables consistently higher performance.

The WD Blue version (model: WD5000MPCK) has a suggested retail price of $89 and is covered by a two-year limited warranty.

The WD Black SSHD are already shipping to system manufacturers and integrators, with more information about the drives available on the company's website.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at  @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

See more by Lucas Mearian on Computerworld.com.

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