Hard drives slim down to fit Ultrabooks

Western Digital has developed a 5mm-thin hybrid hard drive to expand the storage capacity of Ultrabooks and other slimline devices to 500GB.

Hard drives slim down to fit Ultrabooks

The hybrid drives – which improve upon the 7mm-thin drives first shipped by WD earlier this year – combine MLC NAND flash storage with magnetic disk platters to offer fast boot and file access without sacrificing capacity.

The most frequently accessed files are stored on the NAND flash for quick access, with less used files on the magnetic disk. Files stored in NAND flash are also backed up on the disk for added robustness.

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“Mobile devices are becoming smaller, thinner, lighter and more responsive,” said Matt Rutledge, vice president of client storage solutions at WD, adding that the new drives will offer “high capacity storage along with excellent performance and superior economics”.

A hybrid drive thin enough to fit in an Ultrabook yet offering 500GB of storage would be a huge boon to manufacturers, as the current crop is limited in that respect.

Although the product is at the sampling stage, some way from final production, Acer and Asus have confirmed they are collaborating with WD to create slimmer devices. That suggests we can expect to see the technology in future Ultrabooks from both companies.

Currently, the Asus Zenbook and Acer Aspire S3 range can be bought with more expensive SSD storage up to only 256GB, with the latter also offering 500GB hard disk capacities with no SSD element.

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