Fujitsu announces high-capacity, non-perpendicular laptop drive

Sunnyvale (CA) - In an effort to bridge the gap between laptops and desktops, Fujitsu US announced this morning a new high-capacity hard drive for notebook computers. The 160 Gb, 2.5 inch drive, dubbed the MHV2160BT, will have a SATA interface and Native Command Queuing - features you expect in desktop cousins, but are just now appearing in notebook form factors.

The 160 Gb capacity represents a 60% increase in space over the previous year. Fujitsu spokesperson Tiffany Leinassar told Tom's Hardware Guide the drive does not use the new perpendicular recording technology, a method which aligns the bits vertically versus horizontally. Last June, rival Seagate Technology announced its Momentus 5400.3 160 Gb drive, crediting perpendicular technology with its high capacity.

Consumers have been demanding desktop parity recently, as around 60 percent of desktop drives are 7200 RPM, according to a recent Hitachi press release. The 4200 RPM spin rate for the Fujitsu MHV2160BT is on par with many notebook hard drives, where lower speeds result in slight power savings and increased survivability. Other laptop drive companies have been transitioning their high-end drives to 5400 and 7200 RPM speeds.

Native command queuing (NCQ) - another feature commonly attributed to desktop drives - may help speed up access times and reduce power requirements. NCQ processes read/write instructions in a more efficient manner and sequence, according to Fujitsu. Seagate's Momentus 5400.2 drives have had NCQ since December 2004.

Fujitsu representatives were not specific on what will come after this latest 160 Gb drive, but according to Leinassar, "We will make rotational speed and capacity both a priority."

This afternoon, Mike Karp, senior storage analyst with Enterprise Management Associates, downplayed the news, stating that 160 Gb "is an awful lot on a laptop. This is appealing to people to only one machine." With regard to Fujitsu's having opted to use more conventional recording technologies rather than shift now to perpendicular, Karp said, "The end user doesn't care about perpendicular."

No pricing for the new unit has been set, but Don Jeanette, a spokesperson for Fujitsu Products of America told us, the final retail price "will be comparable to a 160 Gb price point at 4200 RPM. The higher capacity will dictate a higher premium."