Hitachi Helps Asus Launch Terabyte Laptop

TheMurph

Hitachi is rolling out a new line of notebook hard drives, and it’s certainly a doozy! Dubbed the Travelstar 5K500, the 5,400 RPM, 500GB hard drive will finally place laptops into the storage feast long since enjoyed by their desktop counterparts. But there’s a small catch – to achieve such an improvement, Hitachi merely slapped an extra platter onto its standard, two-disc design. This kicks the height of the drive itself up from 9.5mm to 12.5mm, although company officials promise that modern notebooks should easily be able to handle this larger form factor.

At the very least, Asus has taken the plunge. The company intends to use 5K500 drives in its new line of M50 and M70 laptops, the latter featuring up to a terabyte of storage space. Yes, that’s right. A terabyte. It will be the first laptop to hit this mark, undoubtedly featuring two 5K500s in a RAID-style configuration.

But with new technological advancements come new questions – are these drives reliable? Loud? Warm? We took a chat with Hitachi’s Director of Marketing and Strategy, Larry Swezey, to get the dirt on these devilishly large drives. We'll have pictures of the drives soon enough, but until then, here’s what he told us.

Extra Features:

“We will have encryption as an optional feature for this. This is very much compatible with all of the other drivers we’ve launched that have encryption.”

Energy-savings:

“Despite this being 3 discs, we’ve been able to do some nice changes to the motor and some of the electronic circuitry that drives the motor.”

The 5K500 will leech as much power as one of Hitachi’s two-disc 250GB drives, although the 5K500 isn’t going for the famed “energy-conscious” title. “We’re focused on the fact that it gives you the higher capacity, but there’s no penalty in terms of power increase,” Swezey added.

Data Safety:

“Vibration is a big problem, and we’ve had to do a lot to address that.”

Hitachi’s slapping its Rotational Vibration Safeguard technology into the 5K500. Whenever vibration from the speakers begins to adversely affect the drive heads, the drive itself will respond with a countering force. It’s the “every action is equal and opposite” school of drive safety, and in this case, should help protect your data from your rocking out.

7200 RPM?

“It’s something we’re thinking about for the next generation. In terms of the 5400, it’s a commonly accepted spin speed in the world of notebooks, so again, being mindful of the energy concerns and the concerns about batteries, we wanted to go out first with a 5400 to make sure we had the market acceptance.”

Areal Density!

“Forty percent capacity growth per year is probably a reasonable number. There’s not going to be this next generation super killer tech that we can ride for the long period of time we rode like MR/GMR for example. We have perpendicular magnetic recording, but that won’t give us the tremendous growth we saw.

If you’re really driving the areal density to get to the higher capacity points, there’s always a tradeoff of your manufacturing yields, time to market, and the quality of the product you’re producing.”

A Single Notebook Terabyte Drive?

“There’s more technology available -- I wouldn’t dare to say which ones we’re going to use, but there’s been a lot of discussion in terms of pattern media and thermally assisted recording. There are other technological tricks that we and the HD industry have available to us to be able to increase capacity.”

Swezey estimates that we’ll see a single, terabyte, notebook drive within three to four years.

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