Sleek Stor­age

Sea­gate Ul­tra­thin Lap­top HDD

HWM (Singapore) - - Lab Test -

Al­though tech­nol­ogy is ever-chang­ing, a cou­ple of things have re­mained con­stant - users’ in­sa­tiable ap­petite for more stor­age, as well as the de­sire for sleeker, more por­ta­ble gad­gets.

Speak­ing of stor­age, flash­based hard drives have come in fa­vor over tra­di­tional me­chan­i­cal hard drives for a num­ber of rea­sons. For one, they of­fer far su­pe­rior per­for­mance, and are of­ten slim­mer. Be­cause they con­tain no mov­ing parts, they are also vir­tu­ally im­per­vi­ous to fail­ure due to shocks from bumps and jolts.

How­ever, flash-based stor­age can cost sub­stan­tially more. And while it is true that prices of flash-based drives such as SSDs have dropped sig­nif­i­cantly in the past year, they are still much more ex­pen­sive than me­chan­i­cal hard drives. Look­ing at the cost-per-gi­ga­byte, while prices of SSDs have fallen to around $1 to $2 per gi­ga­byte, me­chan­i­cal hard drives cost mere cents per gi­ga­byte. From an eco­nom­ics per­spec­tive, me­chan­i­cal hard disks still make a lot of sense.

To meet the need for more com­pact drives while re­tain­ing the value propo­si­tion of me­chan­i­cal hard drives, Sea­gate has re­cently in­tro­duced the Ul­tra­thin Lap­top HDD. Un­veiled just this year at Computex, Sea­gate stated that this new ul­tra-slim hard drive aims to en­able mo­bile de­vices such as tablets to have greater stor­age ca­pac­i­ties.

The new Ul­tra­thin Lap­top HDD uses the 2.5-inch form fac­tor that is typ­i­cal to note­book hard drives and mea­sures just 5mm-thick. This makes it, along with the Western Dig­i­tal Blue Ul­tra­Slim, the thinnest hard disk drives in the world.

To achieve this feat of engineering, Sea­gate had to re­design the PCB as well as the head stack, the mech­a­nism re­spon­si­ble for read­ing and writ­ing to the plat­ter. Also, a sin­gle high den­sity plat­ter is used. How­ever, while its ri­val at Western Dig­i­tal uses a more com­pact SFF-8784 edge con­nec­tor to save space, Sea­gate has some­how man­aged to fit its Ul­tra­thin Lap­top HDD with a stan­dard SATA con­nec­tor. This makes it eas­ier for users to in­stall in their note­book, and also for OEMs to im­ple­ment in their prod­ucts.

One of the big­gest chal­lenges faced by Sea­gate is de­sign­ing the Ul­tra­thin Lap­top HDD was how to make it rigid and sta­ble enough to be used in mo­bile gad­gets. In a chas­sis this thin, there’s no room for any flex, as that might dam­age the spin­ning plat­ter within. Hence, the de­ci­sion was made to go with a stain­less steel chas­sis, in­stead of com­monly-used alu­minum. This makes the drive a tad heav­ier, but pro­vides bet­ter pro­tec­tion when han­dling the de­vice.

The Ul­tra­thin Lap­top HDD spins at 5400 rpm and has 16MB of on­board DRAM for caching to help aug­ment per­for­mance. In our tests, the drive recorded se­quen­tial read and write speeds of 101.37MB/s and 84.24MB/s, as well as ran­dom 4k read and write speeds of 0.45MB/s and 0.69MB/s re­spec­tively. This places it a lit­tle lower on per­for­mance, when com­pared to the Western Dig­i­tal Ul­tra­Slim, by around 15% over­all.

De­spite the poorer per­for­mance, the Ul­tra­thin Lap­top HDD will likely be ap­peal to end-users be­cause it uses a stan­dard SATA con­nec­tor, mak­ing it much eas­ier for users to in­stall. OEMs might also pick the Sea­gate over the Western Dig­i­tal drive as it does not re­quire a spe­cial adapter, mak­ing in­te­gra­tion into de­vices eas­ier.

The Ul­tra­thin Lap­top HDD cur­rently re­tails for around $93; a slight pre­mium over reg­u­lar 7mm-thick drives with a sim­i­lar ca­pac­ity. A lower ca­pac­ity ver­sion with 320GB of stor­age is avail­able for $87.

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