Seagate Ultrathin Laptop HDD
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.