Seagate to launch slimmer laptop hard disk at CES

The new disk drive should help companies produce thinner laptops

Seagate Technology. the world's largest hard-disk drive maker, is planning to launch a new drive that's 25 percent thinner than current models. The 7-millimeter high drive will allow laptop PC makers to further reduce the thickness of their computers and is scheduled to be launched at January's Consumer Electronics Show, the company said in an email.

Disk drives for laptop computers are typically either 9.5 millimeters high or 12.5 millimeters high. The thicker drives generally offer greater capacity because an extra 2.5-inch diameter storage platter can be accommodated inside. Recent advances in magnetic data storage mean more data can be crammed on to a single platter making the need for multiple platters less pressing in drives.

Seagate hasn't disclosed the capacity of the drive, which will be part of its Momentus Thin series, but it is already being evaluated by customers.

"Finally, we have now started the qualification process of the industry's first 2.5 inch 7 mm high hard disk drive," Robert Whitmore, Seagate's chief technology officer, said in an earning conference call in late October. "This new slimline product allows our OEM customers to continue to reduce the thickness and weight of their notebook platforms."

Around nine out of 10 netbook PCs on the market rely on 9.5-mm, 2.5-inch drives while some use thinner drives with smaller 1.8-inch diameter platters at the sacrifice of storage capacity.

Seagate said the new drive will mean "significantly lower cost-per-gigabyte storage than solid state and 1.8-inch drives, enabling a new breed of entry-level thin laptops."

The drive is scheduled to be officially announced on Jan. 5, two days before the International Consumer Electronics Show is due to begin in Las Vegas.

The hard-disk industry is increasingly focusing on 2.5-inch drives for laptop PCs as their share of the market grows. In the third quarter of this year shipments of 2.5-inch models for the first time exceeded those of 3.5-inch drives, typically used in desktop PCs and servers. Among all shipments 49 percent were of 2.5-inch drives and 44 percent were 3.5-inch models, according to figures from IDC.

Seagate was the number one hard-disk drive maker in the third quarter but is ranked third in the 2.5-inch market behind leader Western Digital and Toshiba, said IDC.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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