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The storage paradox: Thinner yet wider

Western Digital introduces a new class of hard disk drives for use in notebooks that have a slimmer profile than current designs yet offer more storage capacity.

Western Digital (WDC) has introduced a new class of hard disk drives for use in notebooks that have a slimmer profile than current designs yet offer more storage capacity.

This new class of hard disk drives has been designed to accommodate new thin-and-wide notebooks from vendors such as IBM, Digital, Compaq, and Texas Instruments. The thin-and-wide design allows for larger LCD screens and full-sized keyboards while economizing on weight.

To take advantage of the trend, Western has developed an EIDE two-platter hard drive in a 3-inch form factor that is itself thinner and wider. The drives in the Portfolio family are 10.5mm high, compared to the 12.5mm high and 2.5-inch wide drives commonly used in current notebook designs. Western's Portfolio drives weigh 197 grams and offer an average read-seek time of 14ms, the company said.

The 3-inch form factor drives have potential for long-term success in mobile and desktop computers, according to Phil Devin, chief analyst of storage technologies for Dataquest, a market research firm. The drives also have the advantage of being manufactured from widely available, low-cost parts used in high-volume 3.5-inch hard drives, Devin says.

Western is currently offering a 1GB drive in the new form factor, and says 1.6GB and 2.16GB sizes will be available in the second quarter of 1997.

In related news, Western announced that it is adding a new 4GB EIDE hard drive to its Caviar family of hard drives. The new 3.5-inch drive will also be offered in capacities ranging down to 1.2GB and sports a sub-12ms average seek time. The 4GB model will have a 256K buffer and a reliability rating of 350,000 hours MTBF (mean time between failure), up from 300,000 hours MTBF for previous versions.

Volume production is expected in January 1997, with estimated retail street pricing at under $430.