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Laptop Storage: 640GB And 500GB Drives From WD And Fujitsu

Western Digital First To Introduce 640GB Notebook Hard Drives

WD’s announcement of its 750GB and 1,000GB notebook hard drives went out a few months ago, but these are targeted at storage applications rather than notebooks, due to their increased height of 12.5mm. Instead, the company has been shipping the first 640GB Scorpio Blue drive, which currently is the market’s highest capacity 2.5” notebook hard drive. We compared it to the 500GB competition already out there.

Against the Odds?

The emerging SSD market seems to threaten conventional hard drives in the mobile space, but it really doesn’t. Although hard drives are no match for a modern SSD in terms of performance and power efficiency, capacity will remain the most relevant cost-related item for years to come. Sure, SSDs could technically match hard drive capacities, but costs would be outrageous. Realistically, high-capacity SSD storage near $100 price points will remain out of reach for the foreseeable future.

Evolution

The step from 500GB to 640GB is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. When hard drive manufacturers reach a new capacity point (say, 500GB), they try to maintain as many cost items as possible for the transition. If heads or the case can remain largely unchanged for the next models, this will save significant costs versus a redesign.

Ranks

Manufacturer2008 Shipments
Western Digital50.4 million units
Hitachi GST50.3 million units
Fujitsu38.6 million units
Toshiba34.5 million units
Seagate29.8 million units
SamsungN/A

With the imminent combination of Fujitsu’s and Toshiba’s market share, the Japanese hard drive manufacturer moves to the undisputed number one position for 2.5” drives. Hitachi and WD battle for second and third place, and Seagate follows. We did not get reliable numbers for Samsung, but we expect these to be clearly lower.

This review includes WD’s latest 640GB Scorpio Blue drive, as well as the MJA2500CH, which will be the last mobile hard drive originating from Fujitsu. Future drives will probably all be Toshibas.