Scientists at the Data Storage Institute in Singapore said they are working on a HDD form factor that will drop the thickness of the currently thinnest HDD from 7 mm to at least 5 mm , which should be enough to be an option for tablets (the iPad 2 is 8.8 mm thick). DSI said that it already has developed an axial field motor for HDDs that is just 4 mm thick and can support both 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM drives.
"DSI is very excited about the direction that we are taking. We strongly believe there is an opening in the market for thin drives," said Pantelis Alexopoulos, executive director at DSI. Apparently, DSI is not only working on pure HDD designs, but also flash-supported hybrid drives.
There are still questions whether there is a general tablet market and there have been reports that tier-1 PC makers may be considering to actually drop out of the tablet market in 2012 due to a lack of profit opportunities. However, 5 mm HDDs may not only work for tablets - they may also be an interesting option for ultrabooks.
DSI said that it will be demonstrating a 5 mm drive sometime in the future, but did not mention an exact time.