Seagate launches 500GB hard drive for tablets, blurs PC lines

Summary:Seagate is aiming to make 500GB an option for tablets with a 2.5-inch hard drive. Will tech buyers take the option?

Seagate on Monday took the wraps off a hard drive designed for tablets that brings 7x the storage capacity of a 64GB device with the same performance as a Flash drive.

seagatedrive1

The drive, the Seagate Ultra Mobile HDD, uses software to boost performance. The idea is that Android tablet manufacturers will use the Seagate drive, along with the company's mobile enablement kit and caching software, to up the storage.

The 2.5-inch drive is 5 mm thin and weighs 3.3 ounces. As for capacity, the drive has 500GB---enough for 100,000 photos and 125,000 songs.

In a statement, Steve Luczo, CEO of Seagate, said the company is hoping that the thin hard drive will be sold as a value add to mobile devices and allow them to "re-think the mobile market."

To keep tablets light and thin, storage is typically Flash powered. The problem is that storage capacity is well below what a PC would carry. Should Seagate succeed with its mobile device drive, tablets would be seen as a more direct competitor with PCs. That outcome may be challenging for the PC market, which is already being thumped by tablets.

The mobile Seagate drive is optimized for tablet uses and are able to manage shock, heat, vibration and gyroscopic motion. The mobile enablement kit includes a dynamic data driver and reference designs that would lower tablet costs since hard drives are cheaper than solid state versions. 

Seagate said the following regarding its reference design:

A customized reference design covers the physical mounting of the hard drive to optimize thermal conditions and further enhance the ruggedness of devices incorporating the Ultra Mobile HDD. The goal of this mounting design is to distribute the force of impacts over a greater period of time to increase the reliability of the hard drive beyond its own physical attributes.

What's unclear is how many tech buyers would go for the drive as an option. The most likely customers would be people that basically use their tablets as a PC replacement. In either case, the PC and tablet lines are likely to blur with a push by Seagate's storage options.

The specs on the drive include 500GB capacity, a SATA 6GB/s interface, 16MB cache and spin speed of 5400RPM. 

seagatedrive2

The news comes as Seagate is about to host its financial analyst briefing. Among other items:

  • Seagate said it has shipped more than 1 million drives using shingled magnetic recording, a next-gen storage technology designed to boost the amount of data stored on a disk. Seagate expects to improve density and get to 1.25TB of data per disk.
  • The company also said it will launch storage products in 8-bay and 4-bay 1U rackmount systems with 4 to 32 terabyte options. The move gets Seagate into the network attached storage market for small and medium sized businesses.
  • Seagate also announced a Rescue and Replace protection plan starting at $29.99 to replace drives and recover data. The protection plan covers any drive from any vendor. The service will launch in Canada and Europe and through Asia Pacific in mid-2014. Seagate Rescue starts with a 2-year plan at $29.99 with 3-year and 4-year options for $39.99 and $49.99, respectively. Rescue and Replace starts at $39.99 for a 2-year plan with additional years for $10 up to 4 years.
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Topics: Storage, Mobility, Tablets

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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