updated 09:00 am EST, Wed February 22, 2012
HItachi Z7K500 sets speed and thinness records
Hitachi staked out a claim as the top builder of thin hard drives on Wednesday through a 500GB version of the Travelstar Z7K500. The drive is the first to hit a half-terabyte at the slimmer 7mm height while keeping a full 7,200RPM spin speed and just one drive platter. Along with being the first to have both a 6Gbps SATA3 connection and a 32MB buffer, it's billed as being not just faster than other 7mm drives but faster than many regular 9mm drives as well.
The disk is intended bot for thin regular notebooks as well as for ultrabooks. Although not fast enough by itself to match a solid-state drive, including an SSD as a cache theoretically offers a best-of-both-worlds design where the responsiveness of an SSD and the lower prices of a rotating hard drive are combined. It consumes more power, but at 1.8W peak and 0.8W idle is relatively efficient.
Hitachi has already been delivering test versions of the newer Z7K500 since January and is already expecting mass production for March, with 250GB and 320GB editions alreadyavailable. It hasn't named the customers that will be using it, although it conspicuously mentioned that "all major PC OEMs" had already qualified the pre-500GB drives and implied that Apple, Dell, HP, and others were either using or planning to use the new Travelstars.