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Seagate takes skinniest single platter to Vegas

Momentus Thin thing

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Seagate is introducing the world's thinnest 2.5-inch laptop hard drive for netbooks and ultra-thin laptop PCs at CES in Las Vegas next month.

This is a single platter Momentus Thin drive, 7mm in height, which makes it 25 per cent slimmer than traditional 2.5-inch notebook drives. It has 160GB and 250GB capacity points, an 8MB cache and spins at 5400rpm. The areal density is conservative at 380Gbit/sq in.

Seagate now has a 640GB Momentus 5400.7 model which has a significantly higher 507Gbit/sq in areal density and spins at 5400rpm. It has two platters, holding 320GB each, and an 8MB cache. The previous Momentus areal density level was 394Gbit/sq in, as used in the 500GB Momentus 5400.6.

Toshiba has a 528.5Gbit/sq in areal density in its 640GB MK6465GSX 2.5-inch drive. Western Digital's 640GB Scorpio Blue 2.5-incher must also be in the 500+Gbit/sq in area too.

We suspect Seagate will move its 640GB drive to a 7200rpm spin speed in the next few months. Its Momentus 7200 offers 500GB and rotates at 7200rpm, as fast as notebook hard drives go. Seagate says that the faster spin speed means faster disk accesses for booting, file reads and writes, and application loading.

We can see the way things are going here, as the Momentus Thin has both areal density and spin speed headroom, with potentially 7200rpm versions and a 320GB high-end model coming.

Seagate says the Momentus Thin "gives original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and system integrators significantly lower cost-per-gigabyte storage than solid state and 1.8-inch drives, enabling a new breed of entry-level thin laptops".

It reckons 90 per cent of netbooks today use 9.5mm 2.5-inch laptop drives because solid state (SSD) drives and 1.8-inch hard drives are largely cost-prohibitive for this market. Momentus Thin bridges the gap between trad 2.5-inch hard drives and SSD storage and this should, Seagate reckons, enable netbook and ultra-thin notebook manufacturers to build lower cost systems with quite high storage capacities.

If this single platter becomes popular it should keep SSDs out of mainstream thin netbooks and ultra-thin notebooks for some time yet.

All the Momentus drives have a 3Gbit/s SATA interface and there is no mention of any SAS or 6Gbit/s intentions.

Seagate says the Momentus drives operate so quietly that human ears can't detect them when they're idle and can only just hear them when the heads are seeking (2.6bels). The Momentus Thin is the quietest of the line, being inaudible (2.5bels) in both idle and seek modes.

We can be sure that Seagate has been trialing the Thin drive concept with OEMs and has received enough positive assurances of interest to go ahead and manufacture the product. Indeed, OEM interest might be revealed at CES in January.

Seagate announced its Pulsar SSD yesterday and here it comes again with a unique 2.5-inch drive format. It looks like the Scotts Valley company is rocking and rolling again. ®

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