Toshiba unveils 7200rpm laptop drives

The traditional 3.5-inch hard drive brick took another step along its steady stroll towards retirement today, as Toshiba unveiled a new line of 2.5-inch hard drives that spin at 7200rpm.

The new MKxx61GS drives come in two flavours, one of which is aimed at high-end laptops and slimline desktops, while the other is targeted at servers.

With a rotational spin speed of 7,200rpm, rather than the usual 5,400rpm for laptop drives, the new units offer similar specifications to their 3.5-inch counterparts, with the exception of storage capacity. Plus, 2.5-inch drives have smaller platters than 3.5-inch drives, so with the same spin speed they can theoretically read and write more data in the same amount of time.

According to Toshiba, the MKxx61GSY line of drives has an average seek time of 12ms, and a maximum data transfer rate of 1,412Mb/sec (176.5MB/sec), which is quicker than the speeds boasted by some solid state drives. The drives have an areal density of 506.3Gb/in2, a 16MB buffer and comes in capacities of 160GB, 250GB, 320GB, 500GB and 640GB.

Toshiba claims that the 2.5-inch drives have "greater power efficiency and durability over 3.5-inch drives," and also says that they features a "free-fall sensor" which automatically locks the hard drive heads before your machine hits the ground.

Meanwhile, the MKxx61GSYB server drives are designed specifically for reliability in intense processing environments. The drives have a 10.5ms seek time, but a lower areal density of 396Gb/in2, so they're a little slower than the MKxx61GSY drives.

However, with their 7,200rpm spin speed, Toshiba says they're capable of a maximum data transfer rate of 1,223Mb/sec (152.9MB/sec), which is still respectable. These drives come with a 16MB buffer, and are available in 80GB, 160GB, 250GB and 500GB capacities.

All the new drives come with a 3Gb/sec SATA interface, and Toshiba promises that they'll be quiet too. According to the company, the drives' acoustics are exactly the same in seek mode as they are when idle.

Maciek Brzeski, vice president of marketing at Toshiba's Storage Device Division, said the "MKxx61GSY is designed for speed, with a balanced approach to storage capacity, durability, power consumption and acoustics, compared to 5,400 RPM mobile and 3.5-inch desktop drives."

Toshiba says that the MKxx61GSY laptop and desktop drives are already shipping, with mass production lined up for later in the third quarter of this year. Meanwhile, the MKxx61GSYB enterprise drives are scheduled to be available in the fourth quarter of 2010.