Hitachi Speeds Up Portable Hard Drives

Hardware manufacturer Hitachi is out with a new hard drive for laptops and mobile devices that it claims will make them as fast and strong as drives found in desktop computers.

The 2.5-inch drive new portable hard drive boasts 7,200-rpm and is able to access data as quickly as many desktop PC systems, the company said. Hitachi also said the new drives also conserve battery power and can handle more wear and tear than their 5,400-rpm predecessors.

Hitachi’s new portable drives store 60 gigabytes of data, which should be more than enough storage for even advanced users running multiple, intensive applications. Hitachi engineers have been working on miniaturizing the disk-reading components in the drives, and initially the drives are expected to be designed into sophisticated, more expensive laptop products.

IBM Corp., which sold its money-losing hard disk drive manufacturing unit to Hitachi last year, has said it will be the first manufacturer to use the 7,200-rpm drives in its ThinkPad notebook line, slated to come out later this year.

Hitachi is expected to negotiate similar deals with other portable computer manufacturers, which are targeting the high end of the market.

Worldwide shipments of portable hard drives are expected to quadruple to 148 million in 2007 from 36 million in 2002, according to technology market research firm International Data Corp.

The new 2.5-inch drive, known as the Travelstar 7K60, has a small slider that supports the hard drive’s read/write head. The slider, only 1mm square, and is engineered to be 30 percent smaller, and its size has been made 60 percent smaller than current hard drives in portable computers. The Travelstar 7K60 is expected to cost around $300.

Hitachi said the 7200 rpm mobile hard drives contain what it calls “femto slider technology,” a “tiny flying wing supporting the read/write head above the surface of the disk — reduces power consumption and increases shock performance.”

The increase in the rpm speed will translate into a fifteen percent increase in how fast notebook computers access data from the hard drive. Hitachi said “rotational latency,” the amount of time it takes to get data under the head, has been boosted by 20 percent, while the average seek time has also been improved by 20 percent.

Hitachi announced a second drive the Travelstar 5K80, which is a 80GB 2.5-inch hard disk drive with rotational speed of 5,400 rpm. Travelstar 5K80 drive is expected to soon be available, and will have a similar price tag to the lower capacity, higher performance Travelstar 7K60.