Hitachi unveils half-terabyte 2.5-in. notebook hard drive

Travelstar 5K500 powered by three spinning disks and stores up to 500GB of data

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies today is set to introduce a 500GB, 2.5-in. hard disk drive for notebook computers, slim desktops and mobile devices.

According to the San Jose-based subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd., the new Travelstar 5K500 disk drives can hold up to 125 hours of high-definition (HD) video, 500 hours of standard digital video, 178 feature-length non-HD movies or 125,000 four-minute songs. The 12.5 millimeter storage device can operate at speeds of up to 5,400 rpm and includes rotational vibration safeguards and a 3Gbit/sec. Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) interface.

The Travelstar 5K500 disk drive

The Travelstar 5K500 disk drive

The Travelstar 5K500 will be available in February for about $350 for a 400GB version and about $400 for a 500GB version, Hitachi said. Both versions incorporate three spinning disk configurations and perpendicular magnetic recording technology. A version of Travelstar 5K500 featuring a bulk data-encryption security option with a 1.5Gbit/sec. SATA interface will also ship in February, the company said.

An enhanced version of the hard drive, called the Travelstar E5K500 and built for application availability, will ship by the end of second quarter of 2008, said Hitachi officials. Built for complex systems requiring round-the-clock application availability in low-transaction IT environments, the Travelstar E5K500 hard drives will support blade servers, video surveillance systems, network routers and point-of-sale terminals, said Hitachi.

Richard Shim, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, said the new half-terabyte 2.5-in. hard drives are in demand among consumers looking to store growing amounts of data. "We are starting to approach that threshold where we're pushing the outer limits of how much capacity we really need," said Shim. "If you ask anybody, they never say they have enough storage."

Shim said Hitachi's three-disk 2.5-in. drive configuration (with 12.5-millimeter z-height) shouldn't pose more heat output or performance issues than traditional 2.5-in. 2-disk models. However, he cautioned that over the long run, efforts to massively increase drive capacity and the number of spinning disks on a device will likely cause data management and hardware maintenance issues for users.

"One significant characteristic here is that the [device] head needs to be intelligently used. You don't want that platter to spin all the time," Shin said. "That will draw [power] down and create opportunities when the head can hit the platter when the notebook has been dropped or bumped."

"We're coming up on this area where we have too much capacity, and the question is: How do you properly navigate that storage capacity?" Shin noted. "I think that is something the [hard drive] industry needs to do something about to make it easier for the consumer to manipulate or access the amount of data to be stored on these systems."

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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