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Western Digital readies world's thinnest hybrid hard disks

Tom Morgan
11 Sep 2012
WD hard disk
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Thinnest hard disks yet to use MLC flash storage, offer an alternative to mSATA SSDs

Western Digital is preparing to unveil its latest storage innovation, the world’s thinnest 2.5in hybrid hard disk. Designed for entry-level and mid-range Ultrabooks, where expensive SSD storage isn’t an option, the new disks take up half the amount of room of a traditional 2.5in disk yet provide the same instant-on performance of an SSD thanks to an as-yet undisclosed amount of MLC flash memory.

WD is no stranger to low-profile hard disks, already shipping 7mm height disks for ultra-portable laptops, but this move brings the company in line with its main rival Seagate – its Momentus XT range was the first hybrid disk to make it to retail. However, Whereas Seagate uses more expensive SLC flash in 4GB or 8GB capacities, the fact WD is using MLC flash should mean we’ll see capacities that rival existing 20GB and 32GB mSATA SSDs. Combine that with 500GB of mechanical storage and you could see high-end performance for a reasonable price.

Several Ultrabook manufacturers have already confirmed their support for the new disks, including Acer and Asus. David Lee, Acer’s associate vice president of Mobile Computing, said the move was "part of our on-going commitment to present leading technology” that “ultimately improves the total user experience of our customers." It’s the first indication of what Acer has planned for its Aspire Ultrabook range, and suggests we’ll be seeing some inexpensive Asus Zenbooks in the near future too.

WD will be showing off the new disks at its Investor day on the 13th of September, so we won’t have long to wait to find out what to expect from them, but don't expect them to appear in Ultrabooks until at least after Christmas.

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