Irvine (CA) - 1.8" hard drives are facing tremendous pressure these days from solid state disk drives, but hard drive manufacturers are still able to maintain a high capacity for a relatively low price. Despite their compact size, 1.8" drives are typically not what you want to run in a PC, as most of these drives are limited to a 4200 rpm speed. Some manufacturers have some 5400rpm models available, but Toshiba is first to lift the capacity to 160 GB and deliver an interesting product for compact PCs and ultra-portables.
1.8" models are typically those hard drives we find in consumer electronics such as Apple’s iPod Classic or digital camcorders. In these environments, the 4200 rpm performance is more than sufficient, but when installed in a PC that is designed to deliver a certain performance, this is certainly not the product category of choice.
Samsung and Toshiba reacted last year in August and September with the first 5400 rpm hard drives with capacities up to 120 GB. Toshiba latest 1.8" generation (the 17th for those who keep count) now lifts the capacity to 160 GB, creating an interesting value proposition for small PCs such as UMPCs, MIDs or subnotebooks. Toshiba offers its new models in a one-platter (80 GB) and a 2-platter version (160 GB), translating into a storage density of 228 Gb / square inch.
Both GSG-series models have the same form factor (54.0 mm x 78.5 mm x 8.0 mm) and follow the regular form factor and are slightly higher and heavier than the previously announced 4200 rpm 1.8" slim drives. The slim drives, which are used for example in Apple’s 80 GB iPod Classic, have a height of only 5 mm and weighs 45 grams. The new 80 GB model weighs 60 grams and the 160 GB version 62 grams. In comparison, Samsung’s 32 GB 1.8" SSD weighs about 15 grams.
Toshiba did not reveal the price of these new hard drives, but it is fair to assume that the SATA 2.6-equipped drives will be cheap enough to set them apart from SSDs: Toshiba aims these new 5400 rpm models at the PC market and says it will begin shipping the drives in August. Expect these drives to surface in notebooks, UMPCs and one or the other compact PC. You won’t be seeing these drives in Intel-based MID devices as the Atom processor and its SCH chipset only support a PATA interface and not SATA.
Toshiba said that the idle power consumption of the 80 GB model is about 0.2 watts, while the 160 GB model is rated at 0.9 watts.