Hitachi has announced today the widespread availability of its new ultra-slilm range of laptop hard disk drives called the Z-series which feature a single 320GB platter and come with a 7mm thickness.
When we met Nick Kyriacou, Director, EMEA at Hitachi Global Storage Technologies last week, he described how the single biggest selling point would be the fact that the new slimmer drives won't carry any price premium over the older 9.5mm models due to expected economies of scale.
This is particularly interesting as the new drives shave 2.5mm (or 35.7 percent) off the industry standard 9.5mm drive (or the even bigger 12.5mm mega drives). HGST long term goal, from what we understand, is to force the industry to phase out completely the 9.5mm standard.
The storage company is banking on the fact that the mobile segment (think laptops, CE, netbooks) is the fastest growing one in the storage market and that the pipping hot ultra portable laptops and netbooks have more or less shunned optical drives, therefore allowing manufacturers to slash the thickness of their devices.
All the Z-Series drives will have the same mechanics, based on a single 320GB platter, with minor hardware differences; there will be three capacities (160GB, 250GB, 320GB), two spinning speeds (5400rpm and 7200rpm) and 8MB/16MB buffer.
The lowest model will be a 5400rpm one with 8MB cache and a 160GB capacity, the same as the Travelstar 7K500 while the biggest one will be a 7200rpm model with 16MB cache and a 320GB capacity.
What's more, you will be able to swap out the drives, straight away as the interface, down to the location of the screw holes, will remain the same. Power consumption is quoted as being as low as 0.55W (idle) and 1.6W (read/write) for the 5400rpm.
General & Audio Performance as well as heat dissipation should be on par or better than the existing range of products and although HGST has no immediate plans for using 7mm in entreprise, the Z-series will be deployed in the Enhanced Availability and Cinemastar range as well.
As a last word, we don't yet know whether Hitachi plans to eliminate the older generation of Travelstar drives and even some capacities. The price difference between a 120GB and a 320GB hard drive for example at Ebuyer is £8 while that between a 250GB and the higher one is only £2.50.