Hitachi GST finally unveils 2.5-in. hard disk drives

Ultrastar C10K147 performs at speeds up to 10,000 rpm, stores up to 147GB

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies Monday announced three new hard-disk drives aimed at improving storage capacity, performance and power consumption.

The product trio released by Hitachi includes the new Ultrastar C10K147, the company's first foray into the fast-growing 2.5-in. small form-factor drive business. Also featured as part of Hitachi's rollout is the 3.5-in. Ultrastar 15K300 and the 3.5-in. Ultrastar A7K1000.

Available within the next 60 days, the Ultrastar C10K147 performs at speeds up to 10,000 rpm, stores up to 147GB, and includes a 3Gbit/sec. Serial Attached Storage interface and 16MB buffer. The 2.5-in. drive is built to satisfy changing data center requirements of less physical space, higher performance but lower power, and more-efficient cooling, noted Doug Pickford, director of market and product strategy at San Jose-based Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, a subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd.

Research firm IDC predicts that demand for smaller form-factor drives is on the verge of skyrocketing. It predicts that shipments of 2.5-in. drives will reach 9.4 million this year, up from 2.4 million in 2006.

John Ryding, IDC research manager for hard disk drives, says data center storage capacity requirements are growing roughly 50 percent per year. Because adding disk drives and CPUs increases power requirements and squeezes IT capacity, 2.5-in. drives have become an appealing option to incorporate more power-friendly drives in a 1U-rack while reducing physical storage space.

While vendors like Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM have begun to refashion their servers to reap the benefits of 2.5-in. drives, they and other vendors have been slow to add the smaller form-factor disks to storage devices, Ryding said.

"Hard-disk 2.5-in. drives are basically getting used in servers; you're not seeing them in SAN or NAS boxes," said Ryding. "Server vendors have recognized the value of 2.5 in. and have repositioned their products around that. On the storage systems side, those guys are still evaluating the benefits of 2.5 in. in storage." He noted that 3.5-in. disks "still provide them a gigabyte advantage."

Ryding said it will be a challenge for hard disk drive manufacturers such as Hitachi, Seagate LLC and Fujitsu to further increase the capacity of 2.5-in. drives. He predicted that the next jump up in terms of capacity from 147GB will be about 300GB on 2.5-in. drives.

"For that kind of aerial density, which requires advancements in technology, it's going to take some time for those technologies to wind their way into the market," remarked Ryding, who noted that unlike the earlier part of the decade, where aerial density doubled, the current pace has drive aerial density growing about 30 percent annually.

Currently available, Hitachi's Ultrastar 15K300 3.5-in. drive spans from 73GB to 300GB and features Ultra320 SCSI interfaces with 3Gbit/sec. Serial Attached Storage and 4Gbit/sec. Fibre Channel support.

Due for release in the next 60 days, Hitachi's Ultrastar A7K1000 runs at 7,200 rpm and supports up to 1TB. The 3.5-in. drive features a 3Gbit/sec. Serial ATA interface, a 32MB data buffer and self-protection capabilities.

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Brian Fonseca

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