Here’s some good news for fans of anorexic notebooks and Ultrabooks: hard disk manufacturer Western Digital today announced that it has started producing samples of a 5mm-thick hard disk drive featuring hybrid technology; both flash storage and a 500GB disk. And if you’re watering at the mouth by just reading about it, you’re not alone as Asus and Acer are both partnering with WD for this new, hybrid hard disk drive.

A hybrid hard disk drive is a type of large-buffer computer hard disk drive. It is different from standard hard drives in that it integrates a cache using a flash drive or SSD, with a hard disk used for the main storage. The cache is used to store and execute repeated read/write operations to the same location on the hard drive. They are said to offer superior performance, responsiveness, lower power consumption, greater operating shock tolerance, and data protection.

Western Digital making 5 mm-thick hybrid HDDs

Western Digital making 5mm-thick hybrid HDDs

As per a press communiqué, WD’s hybrid offering pairs MLC NAND flash storage with magnetic disks for efficient, high-capacity storage. It utilises the concept of tiered storage: data accessed most frequently (often referred to as ‘hot’ data) is managed using NAND flash to ensure fast response times, while data accessed less often (‘cold’ data) resides on the magnetic disks. The tiered design of hybrid hard drives, compared to current dual-drive solutions, also provides a redundancy benefit for users. The magnetic disk backs up all files residing in the NAND, preventing the inevitable NAND wear and preserving it for the more hot data handling.

“Mobile devices are becoming smaller, thinner, lighter and more responsive,” said Matt Rutledge, Vice President of Client Storage Solutions at WD. “Working with our technology partners, WD has developed new 5mm hard drives that enable high capacity storage, along with excellent performance and superior economics to allow our customers to expand their thin offerings.”
“Acer is partnering with WD to bring advanced notebook performance and capacity in the smallest form factor,” said David Lee, Associate Vice President of Mobile Computing Product business unit at Acer. “It’s a part of our ongoing commitment to present leading technology that ultimately improves the total user experience of our customers.”

“We are seeing a shift in the computing world to more powerful mobile computing solutions,” said SY Shain, Senior Vice President of Asus’ notebook business unit. “With this in mind, Asus and WD are collaborating to create slimmer and more mobile notebook solutions — without sacrificing capacity or performance — to deliver smaller form-factors to consumers.”
We currently have no idea when these drives will come out, but considering Acer and Asus’ involvement, we may expect some of their future products to boast of these skinny hard drives. Western Digital has stated that the new technologies will be showcased during WD’s Investor Day, scheduled to be held on September 13, 2012.

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