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Hitachi releases durable mobile drive

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies has a new mobile disk drive that's tough-as-nails.

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (GST) has introduced a tough-as-nails version of a mainstream 2.5" mobile disk drive -- the Travelstar 4K40, which at 4,200 rpms comes in 20, 30 and 40 GB capacities.

Certainly, there are faster and larger mobile disk drives on the market, from Hitachi included, but none quite as rugged, the company claims, thanks to several enhancements.

To reduce possible points of failure, Hitachi has reduced the number of chip-sets on the drive from four down to two. The 4K40's operating and non-operating shock ratings have been increased from 200 to 300 G/2 ms, and 800 to 1000 G/2 ms, respectively. Also, Hitachi has doubled the drive's rating load/unload cycles – the number of times the read/write head can move on and off the media without failure – to 600,000 times. Finally, the drive features an improved actuator arm.

Announcements such as this one will become increasingly common as the focus on areal densities decreases, says Dave Reinsel, research manager for disk drives at IDC. Instead, "R&D dollars will be diverted to other differentiators" such as better power consumption, acoustics, and ruggedization, he predicts.

Nevertheless, Reinsel expects Hitachi to refresh the Travelstar 4K40 to higher speeds and rpms – 60 GB and 5,400 rpms "when it makes sense." But for the time being, the 40GB mobile drive remains "an extremely popular capacity point."

The brunt of Hitachi's mobile drives ship into notebooks and laptops, but according to Bob Halloran, vice president and general manager or Hitachi's 2.5" and 1.8" business, "there's a continued need to have devices that extend outside of the notebook," for example, to consumer devices or disk-backup applications. Resiliency improvements, he says, "help support that emerging market opportunity."

Last year, HGST led the market in unit shipments of mobile class drives, with 53% of the market, according to IDC, followed by Toshiba with 27%.


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