Toshiba's Storage Device Division claims to have produced the first 1.8-inch, 5,400-rpm, SATA hard drive with a 160GB storage capacity. The MK161GSG uses a micro-SATA connector and supports a 1.5Gb/sec SATA interface. The drive is positioned as an ideal addition to the quickly growing small-form-factor portable market, such as subnotebooks, MIDs, and portable audio players.
Toshiba also announced an 80GB version of the 1.8-inch drive, the MK8017GSG. Both drives include 8MB buffers and have 15ms average seek times. The 80GB version uses a single platter with two heads, while the 160GB version has two platters and four heads. Both drives will be available in August.
The current flagship in Toshiba's 1.8-inch drive product line is the 120GB MK1214GAH, which is a parallel-ATA-based drive that spins at 4,200rpm. By upping the rotational speed and switching over to a SATA interface, the new drives should be capable of moderately faster performance. Toshiba also claims that the new drives are 25 percent more energy efficient than the MK1214GAH. Lastly, Toshiba also claims that the new drives have improved vibration and shock resistance.
Other drive manufacturers, such as Hitachi, Samsung, and Seagate, produce 1.8-inch drives. However these drives all currently have slower rotational spin rates, and still only support Parallel-ATA interfaces.
The technology that allows drive manufacturers to cram so much storage space into such a small form factor is called perpendicular recording--which aligns the magnetic elements of the hard disk substrate into a perpendicular (up and down) alignment, instead of the more traditional longitudinal (left and right) alignment. Toshiba has been an early innovator in this technology and was the first drive manufacturer to utilize the technology in a commercially available hard drive.
The future of hard drive storage very likely belongs to Solid State Drives
(SSD). But until SSD prices come down, expect to see the more traditional platter-based drives continue to dominate the hard drive market for at least a couple of more years.