Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST) today announced that it has shipped more than 25 million Travelstar Z-series, 7 millimeter (mm) z-height, 2.5-inch hard disk drives (HDD), enabling a new era of thin and light portable computers, ultra-compact CE devices and industrial systems. The company also announced that it is now shipping its new 500 GB, Travelstar Z7K500 drive - the industry's fastest and highest capacity, one-disk, 7,200 RPM HDD. All Hitachi GST Z-series drives can serve as a direct replacement for standard, 2.5-inch 9.5 mm hard drives. They feature common connectors and mounting points for simple integration into existing systems, and enable greater design flexibility to differentiate and meet market demands for new, thinner, lighter and more robust devices. Enabling Thin and Light Designs Embraced by many of the top PC OEMs, the Ultrabook specification authored by Intel offers opportunities to create a compelling tablet-like computing experience in an ultra thin laptop design. In addition to providing a thin and light design, instant-on capabilities, and an extended battery life, PC OEMs must also create high-quality, cost-effective solutions to help drive competition, differentiation and mass adoption. To help achieve this goal, a key part of Intel's Ultrabook specification is combining a 7 mm HDD with a SSD cache, giving OEMs the ability to explore the limits of modern ultra thin and light designs without sacrificing capacity, performance, battery life or quality. For instance, a Hitachi 7 mm HDD combined with an SSD cache can help OEMs meet the Ultrabook specification for performance and start up times, while providing a high-capacity, space-efficient, and cost-effective solution. Based on Hitachi's OEM customer plans, this combination is expected to ship in a significant majority of Ultrabooks in 2012. "We expect cache SSD shipments to soar over the next couple of years due to the rise in Ultrabook demand," said Ryan Chien, research associate for memory & storage at IHS. "Shipments of cache SSD units in 2012 are projected to reach 25.7 million units - a 2,817 percent increase compared to 2011 - and will reach approximately 121 million units by 2015. This growth is extremely significant for HDD manufacturers, as combining slim magnetic storage with caching SSDs gives customers high-speed access to massive amounts of storage at an affordable price." When designing today's portable and compact solutions, solid state drives (SSD) offer great performance, but currently none come close to the cost-per-gigabyte economics of hard drives as SSDs are largely cost prohibitive for the mainstream ultra-portable consumer market. SSDs can be 12 times more expensive on a cost per gigabyte basis when compared to Hitachi Z-series drives. Competing hybrid drives are another option, but current implementations do not offer the 7 mm form factor and may not meet price/performance targets. With Hitachi Z-series drives, manufacturers can utilize space savings to design thinner devices, increase shock robustness, improve unplugged time by using a larger battery or allow for enhanced cooling and air flow due to the thinner HDD design. "Slim, compact, light-weight - no matter how you phrase it, there's no denying that thin is in, and this trend is driving broad market acceptance for our 7,200 and 5,400 RPM 7 mm 2.5-inch drives," said Brendan Collins, vice president of product marketing at Hitachi GST. "We are proud to report that all major PC OEMs have qualified our previous generation 7 mm drives for a variety notebooks, Ultrabooks and CE devices, confirming that the industry continues to recognize the value and benefits of this new form factor. By adding the first 500 GB, high-performance 7 mm drive to our portfolio, Hitachi GST now offers the market's broadest 7 mm 2.5-inch hard drive portfolio to meet the needs of a diverse mobile computing and storage segment." "We're witnessing a change in the industry in terms of how laptops are designed. From manufacturing, performance, efficiency, weight, aesthetics and features, we're bringing compelling advantages to the end user," said Wentao Yang, vice president of Global Procurement, Lenovo. "Equipping our laptops and Ultrabooks with Hitachi Z-series drives allows us to offer new designs, while ensuring that we have the quality and reliability that our customers expect." New 7 mm Travelstar Z7K500 2.5-inch Hard Drive The new 7,200 RPM Travelstar Z7K500 family delivers on the company's proven strengths of reliability, high-performance, low-power, exceptional shock resistance and quiet acoustics. With an industry-first 6 Gb/s SATA interface, as well as a 32 MB cache and 7,200 RPMs, the new thin and rugged Travelstar Z7K500 delivers up to 33 percent more performance in PCMark Vantage testing than other 2.5-inch hard drives on the market. Delivering the right balance of power and acoustics, the new 7,200 RPM Travelstar Z7K500 family features 1.8 watts (W) read/write power and 0.8W low-power idle, and delivers a nearly silent operation at 2.3 idle/2.4 seek bels. They also feature Advanced Format, which increases the physical sector size on HDDs from 512 bytes to 4,096 (4K) bytes, thereby improving drive capacity and error correction capabilities. Optional Travelstar Z7K500 drive models are available, including a self encrypting drive (SED) designed to meet the highest standards for protecting data, and an enhanced-availability (EA) model for applications needing around-the-clock data access in lower-transaction environments. The Travelstar Z7K500 family comes in 500 GB, 320 GB and 250 GB capacities. Qualification samples of the Travelstar Z7K500 family have been shipping since January; volume shipments will begin in March.