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Researchers Working on HDDs Slim Enough For Tablets

By - Source: JCN | B 31 comments
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Tablets using flash drives in thin form factor formats is painful for HHD manufacturers.

The shipment volume of these flash in these devices is high enough to spark some effort to develop HDDs that are small enough to fit into tablets.

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.

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  • 22 Hide
    phasmantis , November 21, 2011 3:21 PM
    Something about spinning disks on a platter and lots of maneuverability doesn't seem to go together... oh yeah, the maneuverability. Sorry, but there should be NOTHING in a tablet besides some sort of flash memory. Last thing I want is to feel my HDD vibrate and hear it click in the palm of my hands...
  • 19 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , November 21, 2011 3:13 PM
    What a bunch of idiots. First they made the tablets and smartphones thin as hell for no reason, dropping battery life, and now they're gonna try to make HDDs thinner, too... So now you won't be able to toss that tablet on the sofa safely or what? This is a downgrade!
  • 12 Hide
    theuniquegamer , November 21, 2011 3:27 PM
    No one wants a 1tb hdd on a tablet gone bad after accedentaly tossing it on the table. TBH does anyone need more than 128gb or 256gb on a cellphone or tablet like ultraportable devices. BTW the high capacity ssds are going to be more cheaper to use in tablets in next few years.
Other Comments
  • 19 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , November 21, 2011 3:13 PM
    What a bunch of idiots. First they made the tablets and smartphones thin as hell for no reason, dropping battery life, and now they're gonna try to make HDDs thinner, too... So now you won't be able to toss that tablet on the sofa safely or what? This is a downgrade!
  • 7 Hide
    de5_Roy , November 21, 2011 3:15 PM
    how about slimming down the prices, huh? i know i know this is about a prototype and what not... one can only dream...
  • 8 Hide
    memadmax , November 21, 2011 3:21 PM
    Why???????????
  • 22 Hide
    phasmantis , November 21, 2011 3:21 PM
    Something about spinning disks on a platter and lots of maneuverability doesn't seem to go together... oh yeah, the maneuverability. Sorry, but there should be NOTHING in a tablet besides some sort of flash memory. Last thing I want is to feel my HDD vibrate and hear it click in the palm of my hands...
  • 7 Hide
    Naxos , November 21, 2011 3:23 PM
    They really need to work on this? Have they never seen an IBM micro drive? They are the size of a CF card and have been around for 5+ years. I have 2 of them sitting around somewhere and they still work fine. I'm sure with a modern platter inside they would have plenty of capacity.
  • 12 Hide
    theuniquegamer , November 21, 2011 3:27 PM
    No one wants a 1tb hdd on a tablet gone bad after accedentaly tossing it on the table. TBH does anyone need more than 128gb or 256gb on a cellphone or tablet like ultraportable devices. BTW the high capacity ssds are going to be more cheaper to use in tablets in next few years.
  • 7 Hide
    billybobser , November 21, 2011 3:37 PM
    I would prefer to move away from hard disk's completely. I can't imagine something like a tablet, which already struggles for speed to incorporate a power hungry, noisy and flimsy.

    Perhaps hard disk manufacturers should diversify, not continue to make the same shit.
  • 4 Hide
    visa , November 21, 2011 3:42 PM
    Throw in a 5.25 floppy drive for the tablet and you got yourself a GD deal
  • 3 Hide
    g00fysmiley , November 21, 2011 3:49 PM
    ... i'd be ok with a tablet as thin as an ipod 160 gig... why not use those tiny hdd sor storage and flash based storage for OS, combine with a good bit of ram and it should work
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , November 21, 2011 4:00 PM
    OMG, how short peoples memories are. FWIW, it's was done more then a decade ago:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microdrive

    My first digital camera had a 384MB version of that drive. Slow as molasses, but at the time WAY cheaper then flash of comparable size.

    TTYL
  • 9 Hide
    GreaseMonkey_62 , November 21, 2011 4:06 PM
    It would still be slower and eat more power than a solid state drive. So a tablet would have more storage space but be slower and have a shorter battery life. I'd like to see cheaper larger capacity SDD's instead. Anyone out there working on that?
  • 0 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , November 21, 2011 4:22 PM
    repatchOMG, how short peoples memories are. FWIW, it's was done more then a decade ago:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MicrodriveMy first digital camera had a 384MB version of that drive. Slow as molasses, but at the time WAY cheaper then flash of comparable size.TTYL


    Eh, my iRiver e10 mp3 has one of those, I think. That's the point here, man - SLOW... NOT good for a tablet. TTYL
  • 0 Hide
    hannibal , November 21, 2011 4:34 PM
    Quote:
    It would still be slower and eat more power than a solid state drive. So a tablet would have more storage space but be slower and have a shorter battery life. I'd like to see cheaper larger capacity SDD's instead. Anyone out there working on that?


    No?

    :-) Well, actually they are allready working on it, but it will take many, many years until ssd are even near hdd in the price. If the pace remains the same as it has been last years. As long as they manage to make smaller memory chips the price will continue to fall, but guite soon the price dropping will be slover. 10 nm is near and soon after that there are some serious problems... propably before that.
  • 1 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , November 21, 2011 4:46 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    It would still be slower and eat more power than a solid state drive. So a tablet would have more storage space but be slower and have a shorter battery life. I'd like to see cheaper larger capacity SDD's instead. Anyone out there working on that?


    No?

    :-) Well, actually they are already working on it, but it will take many, many years until ssd are even near hdd in the price. If the pace remain the same as it has been last years. As long as they manage to make smaller memory chips the price will continue to fall, but quite soon the price dropping will be slower. 10 nm is near and soon after that there are some serious problems... probably before that.


    Due to the recent HDD price increases, maybe not.

    P.S. Typed on a tablet or what? :D 
  • 2 Hide
    gelid , November 21, 2011 4:47 PM
    Ever since the ultrabook madness everything has been getting smaller and for what? i quite frankly don't see a reason for a super thin laptop. For the same price you can get a proper laptop with much better specs and probably a longer battery life. is a few mm really worth it?
  • 5 Hide
    DSpider , November 21, 2011 4:52 PM
    It's not a good idea to have mechanical parts in portable devices. Remember those HDD's in iPods? Yeah, remember how they used to fail one by one by the year 2005 ? Compare that to ~400.000 flash writes, for which, say, if you would sync new stuff every day would take you... 365 syncs in a year... times 100 years is 36500 writes. Still not enough.

    Flash storage is:
    - more reliable
    - completely silent
    - less power hungry (nothing spins, no reading head travelling across the surface) - a lot more suitable for portable devices

    Seriously. What are they thinking??
  • 0 Hide
    sinfulpotato , November 21, 2011 5:15 PM
    WTF, stop waiting money on mechanical drive research. Throw it at flash please, then we will see prices drop as more manufactures switch, and reliability will increase.
  • 1 Hide
    razor512 , November 21, 2011 5:48 PM
    does not seem to be the best idea for a tablet.

    due to the spinning platter of a hard drive, the platter becomes a gyroscope

    because of that, it resists changes in angle. which is why you can kill a laptop hard drive by repeatedly and rapidly changing the angle of the drivewhile it is spinning.

    For a device that will be in your hand, It will be more likely to encounter changes in angle which will damage the drive or put additional stress on it.

    And I don't see them researching ways to most effectively break the laws of physics.

    They may be relying on the shortsightedness of most people

    eg they flock to devices with no user replaceable batteries even though those batteries will be the first thing to fail in the device, (same goes for hybrid cars, only difference is the battery is user replaceable, it just cost $7000)
  • 0 Hide
    razor512 , November 21, 2011 5:56 PM
    The only effective way I see for implementing this will be a tablet with 8-16GB flash storage, then a 32-120GB hard drive which is used for archival storage, eg large files are are not frequently accessed.

    The content will be indexed on the flash storage and the HDD will remain powered off until needed.

    That way the device can pop up a warning not to move the device around too much while the HDD is in use, or rely more on content such as movies being stored on it where the tablet is more likely to be stationary.

    The area where a tablet really crushes a laptop is when it comes to low cost video consumption. Nothing like using the $100 hp touchpad to watch anime while in bed, and if I don't want to hold it, I simply place it on my cardboard stand http://underdesign.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/diy-ipad-stand/

  • 1 Hide
    syrious1 , November 21, 2011 8:36 PM
    Scenario 1: user drops his tablet which has a hdd

    Result: dead tablet, RMA with the fty IF still under warranty
    ----------------------------------------------------

    Scenario 2: user drops his tablet which has an SSD

    Result: you tell me. but it still works.

    Give up on HHD, just let them die, this is a waste of research.
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