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WD Intros 'World's Thinnest' 2.5-inch Hybrid Hard Drive

By - Source: Western Digital | B 16 comments

Western Digital is now sampling 5-mm hybrid drives to OEMs.

Western Digital (WD) said on Monday that it's currently sampling 5mm-thin hybrid hard disk drives designed to fit within super-thin notebooks (AKA Ultrabooks, etc). These new drives promise SSD-like instant-on and application performance on top of the typical high capacity and low price point traits offered by traditional HDD.

"Mobile devices are becoming smaller, thinner, lighter and more responsive," said Matt Rutledge, vice president of client storage solutions at WD. "Working with our technology partners, WD has developed new 5 mm hard drives that enable high capacity storage along with excellent performance and superior economics to allow our customers to expand their thin offerings."

WD's hybrid tech contains two components: MLC NAND flash storage for SSD-like data throughput and instant-on responsiveness, and magnetic disks for efficient, high-capacity storage. The combined tech will manage data in tiers, throwing the "hot", highly-used data onto the NAND flash chips and the less-used "cold" data on the silver platters.

"The tiered design of hybrid hard drives, compared to current dual-drive solutions, also provides a redundancy benefit for users," WD said. "The magnetic disk backs up all files residing in the NAND, protecting the user from inevitable NAND wear and preserving it for the more hot data handling. WD’s hybrid technology works in conjunction with the PC operating system to deliver higher performance than current hybrid offerings while minimizing NAND wear to allow the use of less expensive MLC NAND."

Unlike other hybrid solutions, WD claims that its new drives provide a single-unit design. Even more, they're smaller than the super-thin 7-mm HDDs WD's began shipping for Ultrabooks and other super-thin notebooks earlier this year. In comparison, 2.5-inch HDDs typically measure 9.5-mm, thus the new hybrids utilize almost 50-percent less volume.

WD said the new drives will be showcased during WD’s Investor Day, Sept. 13, 2012.


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Top Comments
  • 19 Hide
    mavroxur , September 10, 2012 8:09 PM
    5mm is pretty impressive for a mechanical drive.
Other Comments
  • 19 Hide
    mavroxur , September 10, 2012 8:09 PM
    5mm is pretty impressive for a mechanical drive.
  • 5 Hide
    ricardok , September 10, 2012 8:13 PM
    1 platter design + MLC? How about the size of the HDD? Will it be 250gb? 500gb? 750gb? And the rotation speed? Anything less than 500gb 5400rpm today is a waste of money.. And what about the size of the nand/sdd part itself? Sure, 5mm is a feat by itself but without the other info how are we supposed to know if it's going to be good anyway?
  • -1 Hide
    LordConrad , September 10, 2012 8:13 PM
    MLC NAND for cache?? I hope there's a large spare area, cause MLC could get used up pretty fast when used as a cache.
  • 5 Hide
    goodguy713 , September 10, 2012 8:46 PM
    5 mm thick i would be afraid to touch the dam thing ... that metal has to be almost paper thin... bet you could bend it with your hands.. leaves me to wonder how reliable they will be
  • 0 Hide
    blazorthon , September 10, 2012 9:40 PM
    goodguy7135 mm thick i would be afraid to touch the dam thing ... that metal has to be almost paper thin... bet you could bend it with your hands.. leaves me to wonder how reliable they will be


    They're probably fine... However, I make no guarantee about that claim, at least not yet.
  • 0 Hide
    boiler1990 , September 10, 2012 9:50 PM
    ricardok1 platter design + MLC? How about the size of the HDD? Will it be 250gb? 500gb? 750gb? And the rotation speed? Anything less than 500gb 5400rpm today is a waste of money.. And what about the size of the nand/sdd part itself? Sure, 5mm is a feat by itself but without the other info how are we supposed to know if it's going to be good anyway?


    Rotation speeds won't be too much of a factor with the cache, but I doubt it will be less than the current standards.

    The reason more info isn't available is for IP reasons. That's pretty obvious.
  • -2 Hide
    drwho1 , September 10, 2012 9:54 PM
    Why not just use these resources into making SSD's cheaper and higher capacities, rather than making half-way products.
  • 0 Hide
    The Greater Good , September 10, 2012 11:02 PM
    Where are the 2.5 inch hybrid drives? Seagate has one, but I want WD.
  • 4 Hide
    alextheblue , September 10, 2012 11:16 PM
    drwho1Why not just use these resources into making SSD's cheaper and higher capacities, rather than making half-way products.
    You realize there's plenty of companies dumping tons of money into NAND and its potential successors. This little side project didn't hurt those developments at all. SSDs are bigger and cheaper than ever. But for some mobile setups, where you only have the space for a single very slim drive, this has potential. If you need a good price, high capacity, and speed all at the same time, neither SSDs nor traditional HDDs can fill all those roles right now. HDDs are slow, and SSDs either have a high cost or low capacity. This hybrid drive has the potential to balance all three of those demands nicely.

    The Seagate hybrids were a good start, they don't have a lot of cache but it is SLC. They also have the advantage of being completely software-agnostic. But caching systems that depend on a certain OS/software combo have some advantages too. Look at the caching system Intel uses. If WD does something like that, only without the need for a seperate cache drive, they might be on to something. I'm assuming they're using lots of spare area, and it looks like they're not caching writes or something, because they claim redundancy. So even if the MLC suffers lots of failures, you don't lose your data.
  • 2 Hide
    CaedenV , September 10, 2012 11:28 PM
    last I heard (though I could be wrong on this), a device must have SSD in order to get the 'ultrabook' moniker. Hybrid is OK, and better than nothing, but not good enough.

    And SSD makers: It is OK to not have the 'fastest' drives available. There is a huge market out there for people who just want cheap, reliable, low power storage in the 250-500GB range. For these people speed is a nice perk, but the low .1ms access time, and the low power are way more important. 200MB/s is plenty fast to keep a mobile CPU busy, and anything much faster than that is just wasted power. Lastly, make it reliable so that we do not have to fear digging into the bowels of our mobile devices every year when a drive fails.
    Just focus on $/GB, power savings, and reliability and you will get a whole host of buyers who either don't care about the extra speed, or who have hardware (read Atom, Celeron, Pentium, and i3's) that cannot take advantage of that extra speed.
  • -2 Hide
    enewmen , September 11, 2012 4:32 AM
    Why use 5mm? I don't think that's a standard size that will fit most notebooks. Slimmer with the same performance as a normal size 9.5mm drive is great, but where will it go? Is there a new standard size "ultrabook" I don't know about?
    If small and thin is so important, why not just use 1.8" drives ?
  • -3 Hide
    teodoreh , September 11, 2012 7:11 AM
    Hybrid drives so far are a farse. The only true difference is the name....
  • 0 Hide
    DSpider , September 11, 2012 10:06 AM
    Mechanical drives in portable devices are a bad idea, especially these slim ones (new and untested technology). Remember that reliability can only be proven with time, not by vendor claims.
  • 0 Hide
    blazorthon , September 11, 2012 1:22 PM
    DSpiderMechanical drives in portable devices are a bad idea, especially these slim ones (new and untested technology). Remember that reliability can only be proven with time, not by vendor claims.


    So give it a chance before swinging down the gavel on them.
  • 2 Hide
    blazorthon , September 11, 2012 1:23 PM
    teodorehHybrid drives so far are a farse. The only true difference is the name....


    Someone hasn't looked at any modern benchmarks on good hybrid drives.
  • 1 Hide
    alextheblue , September 12, 2012 2:44 AM
    blazorthonSomeone hasn't looked at any modern benchmarks on good hybrid drives.
    Not to mention that this one is aiming to blow the doors off the latest current-model hybrid drives, and actually provide performance benefits similar to using a seperate cache drive with Intel's SRT or similar.