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Get Ready for the Terabyte Notebook
Get Ready for the Terabyte Notebook

By Barry Levine
January 3, 2008 9:09AM

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Following news that the Asus M70 laptop will offer a configuration with two 500-GB Hitachi Travelstar drives, making for a total storage capacity of one terabyte, IDC analyst Doug Bell said the arrival of a terabyte notebook is "surprising in that it's here so quickly." Hitachi's 500-GB Travelstar will be available in February.

A terabyte in a notebook. That vision of portable storage bliss arrived with Thursday's announcement that Asus will integrate two of Hitachi's new 500-GB, 2.5-inch Travelstar hard drives into its M70 laptop.

In case you are having a hard time imagining how large a terabyte is, think about having 350 feature-length movies on your notebook, or 250,000 four-minute songs.

Tony Chen, general manager of Asus Notebooks, said in a statement that the large capacity of the new drive can meet the ever-increasing demand for "digital entertainment on the go" combined with "desktop performance and features."

But the drive is not limited to mobile uses. In a statement announcing the new hardware, Hitachi noted that the 5K500 can be used in space-saving "slim" desktops.

Vibration Warning System

Hitachi said the drive's rotational vibration safeguard (RVS) technology is designed to protect data by providing an "early warning system" to the drive. When the RVS detects that a vibration might be on the way, the drive takes steps to stabilize itself, the company said.

According to Hitachi, while premium speakers can enhance the experience of movies, music, and games, they can pass on vibrations that the drive notices even if the user doesn't. Another common vibration source can be the motor on another drive, in a two-drive laptop.

There are three platters in the new drive, instead of two as in previous Hitachi laptop drives. Although the drive fits into a 2.5-inch format -- the standard size for most laptops -- it's actually a bit taller than existing drives.

The arrival of a terabyte notebook is "surprising in that it's here so quickly, but it was inevitable," said IDC analyst Doug Bell. He said that the needs of some users for large media files is "definitely pushing the physical limits" of hard drive storage.

May Become Commonplace

Bell said he doubts that the mass market needs this much portable storage, but also said that he wouldn't be surprised if 500-GB single drives and terabyte dual-drives become commonplace.

Storage of this capacity and form factor has other applications beyond just being a home for favorite movies and songs. In addition to rolling out the 5K500, Hitachi is releasing the E5K500, an "enhanced" version that can be used for applications that require constant operation, such as blade servers, network routers, point-of-sale terminals, and video-surveillance systems.

The trade-off for the E5K500 is that it uses more power. The E5K500 needs to be always available, so it doesn't power down when not needed.

The Travelstar 5K500 will be available worldwide in February. The Travelstar E5K500 will be available by the end of the second quarter, 2008.

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