Toshiba squeezes 5,400 rpm from 1.8-in. hard disk drive

New storage line promises steep performance boost for ultrathin, tablet computers

Toshiba is set to unveil a line of micro-Serial ATA 1.8-in. disk drives that can operate at spin speeds of 5,400 rpm.

Toshiba said the 80GB MK8016GSG and 120GB MK1216GSG drives are slated to ship to mobile PC manufacturers and partners in April. The drives weigh about 62 grams, according to the company.

The company was set to show off the drives on Tuesday at the Intel Mobility Summit in Shanghai. Patty Kim, product marketing manager at the Toshiba Storage Device Division, a unit of Toshiba, declined to disclose the company's pricing plans for the new drives.

Kim said the devices are based on the 3Gbit/sec. SATA interface architecture of the company's 2.5-in. hard drive systems. She also said the new disk drives support the SATA 2.6 specification and incorporate the micro-SATA connector to allow integration with Toshiba's full line of SATA disk drives. The connector also allows the new drive to be linked to small-design storage devices manufactured by other storage vendors, Kim added.

John Rydning, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, said Toshiba is the first hard drive manufacturer to enable 5,400-rpm speeds in a 1.8-in. device. That capability answers a growing frustration among mobile PC users that they must sacrifice hard drive performance when using ultrathin notebook or laptop computers, he said.

Rydning said that, theoretically, the drive's 5,400-rpm spindle speed and 80GB and 120GB capacity options put performance and reliability of the 1.8-in. device on par with its 160GB 2.5-in. cousin. However, he also noted that IDC has yet to test the device.

"What this means for ultramobile PC makers and users is that they'll have more storage options for the small, thin and light PCs," said Rydning. "It will be a noticeable difference."

Rydning said he expects that other drive makers will unveil similar tools in the coming months. "Demand for capacity on notebook PCs has just been amazing," he said. "The trend is pretty clear: Portable PC users really don't want to give up capacity as they switch to notebooks from desktop computers."

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