While Seagate Technology hasn't announced anything official, a report has surfaced revealing that the company plans to discontinue the manufacture of 2.5-inch 7200RPM mobile hard drives in 2013. This is due to an expected shift in mainstream market demand to different products like solid-state hybrid drives. Seagate said its 7200RPM mobile models will still be offered once production is shut down until the remaining stock is depleted.
The news arrives by way of David Burks, director of marketing and product management at Seagate. He said the company will continue to produce 2.5-inch 5400RPM hard drives for the "value" notebook sector, but the 7200RPM production will come to a halt by the end of the year. The report indicates that Seagate will instead focus on its third-generation hybrid drives in the latter half of 2013.
7200RPM drives offer better performance over the slower 5400RPM drives, but are dramatically slower than solid-state hybrid drives and standard SSDs. Consumers looking for large capacities in their laptops in exchange for lower pricetags have opted for mechanical drives whereas those seeking performance and improved battery life at the cost of capacity and price have sought out the zippier SSDs.
However, hybrid drives offer the best of both worlds: incredible performance and incredibly large storage capacities. "High performance in the notebook segment in the future will come from solid-state hybrid drives (SSHDs) rather than drives with higher spin speeds," a Seagate spokesperson told PCWorld.
Currently Seagate doesn't offer a consumer-based SSD, but that will change thanks to an agreement it signed with DensBits Technologies in 2012 to co-develop low-cost, high performance SSDs for the consumer and enterprise markets. The company said DensBits’ Memory Modem controller technology will be integrated with Seagate’s various storage technologies to power a 3 bits/cell (TLC) 1X-nm Flash-based consumer-grade SSD, and 2 bits/cell (MLC) 1X-nm Flash-based enterprise-grade SSD, among others.
"For the last 30 years, Seagate has delivered technology and product innovation to become the global leader in storage solutions, from high-end enterprise drives to solid-state hybrid drives," said Rocky Pimentel, Seagate chief sales and marketing officer. "Seagate is excited to be working with the talented DensBits team and believes we have a significant opportunity with our new strategic relationship to extend our leadership into the SSD market."
As PCWorld points out, SSD prices have dropped over the last few years, thus the need for 7200RPM drives for notebooks have lessened. As an example, the OCZ 120 GB and 256 GB SSDs were priced at $400 and $750 respectively nearly three years ago, and now a 256 GB model can be purchased for less than $250. The number of sold SSD units is expected to more than double that of 2012 thanks to their lower cost and a growing demand for Ultrabooks.
As seen with its Momentus XT Lineup, Seagate currently offers hybrid drives which rely on platter-based storage for the bulk of the user's files while NAND flash is used for the operating system, system cache and other frequently used data. The company offers models in 500 GB and 750 GB capacities, and SATA 2 (3 Gb/s) and SATA 3 (6 Gb/s) interfaces.