WD Upgrades Desktop Hard Drive To 320 GB Per Platter Capacity

Lake Forest (CA) - Western Digital's mainstream desktop hard drives are getting a bump in capacity, as the manufacturer is upgrading its 2-platter 500 GB model to a 640 GB version.

The switch from 250 GB to 320 GB capacity per platter for the Caviar SE16 drive may not look that exciting from a storage capacity perspective, given the fact that 750 GB and 1 TB drive have been shipping for quite some time now. What is noteworthy however, is the trend behind this announcement.

Typical 750 GB drives are shipping either as 3-platter (3x250 GB) or 4-platter (4x188 GB) models these days, while 1 TB drives are available in 3x334 GB, 4x250 GB and 5x200 GB models. A 320 GB per-platter upgrade puts Western Digital ahead of every major hard drive manufacturer with the exception of Samsung, which has been leading this segment with 334 GB.

Since the 500 GB SE16 model is a popular hard drive in numerous mainstream PCs these days, the 640 GB version should be popping up in next-season PCs; retail hard drives are available immediately, for the same $140 suggested MSRP as the 500 GB model. For now, the new drive, which appears to be one of the first benefits coming out of the firm's acquisition of disk maker Komag last year, could WD provide with an advantage in the market, especially if the company can produce 640 GB drives for the cost of 500 GB models.

If compared to the 4-platter 750 GB model, production cost should be significantly less and we would expect the weight of the drive as well as its power consumption also to decline. However, WD has not provided broken out these specifications for the 640 GB and still rates the entire SE16 family at a weight of 1.39 pounds and a read-write power consumption of 8.77 watts.