The Register’s Chris Mellor reports that in analyst briefings WD CEO John Coyne and CFO Wolfgang Nickl revealed that WD is developing thin and ultra-thin hybrid hard disk drives for the PC Ultrabooks market with a likely transition to energy-assisted recording in 2015 enabling 1TB 2.5-inch disk drive platters.
Mellor notes that current Ultrabooks are 21mm and 18mm thick, but Intel wants to slim them down even more to acheive 15mm, and eventually 12mm thickness. That’s easier to do with the SSD flash storage Apple uses in its MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro models, but all-flash is an expensive way to go and with limited capacity compared to HDD and hybrid solutions. Pure conventional disk drives offer cheaper capacity but are slow. However, hybrid disk drives, combining a HDD with a flash cache, can service 90 per cent of reads from the flash memory module and thereby offer the near instant-on performance advantage of flash and still provide expansive capacity at reasonable prices. Only Seagate ships hybrid drives at the moment.
Mellor says Seagate and WD are both reportedly working on 5mm thick hybrid drives and the WD investment analyst briefing round confirms that WD is with a 7mm hybrid single platter 2.5-inch HDD drive coming in late 2012/2013 that will be suitable for 15mm Ultrabooks, and a 5mm hybrid that could come in mid-2013 or the second half of the year and that would facilitate 12mm Ultrabooks.
Capacities? 500GB now, with a terabyte platter coming possibly in 2015 Mellor says.
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