Seagate wants to put hard drives into tablets

Seagate wants to put hard drives into tablets

Summary: Seagate offers a 500GB hard drive for tablet makers, but despite being only 5mm thick, the drive still has drawbacks.


One of the technologies that facilitated our transition from the PC to mobile post-PC devices is flash memory. While PCs relied for decades on hard drives for storage, hard drives contain moving parts, and as such aren't a good choice for things that we carry around with us, and are definitely not a good idea for things that we throw around.

But Seagate still thinks that there's more life to squeeze out of the aging hard drive technology, and is releasing a new Ultra Mobile HDD. The drive combines a super-slim (5mm) 500GB 6GB/s SATA hard disk drive with 16MB of on-board cache to deliver a peak data transfer rate of 600MB/s, but this drops to only 100MB/s for sustained transfers.

(Source: Seagate)

Seagate recommend that OEMs pair the drive with 8GB of flash storage too, and this, combined with Seagate's Dynamic Data Driver software, results in "power consumption equal to that of a 64GB tablet and the performance equal to that of a 16GB tablet - while costing less than either."

To make the drive more robust than your regular hard drive, Seagate have incorporated zero-gravity sensors (ZGS) which provide extra protection when a device is dropped or in freefall, and have added "improved shock and tolerance for gyroscopic motion supports even the intense maneuvers of gamers."

Seagate are also offering two years of data recovery and hardware replacement  cover for $30 through its Rescue and Replace program.

According to Seagate, the drive brings "7× more space to tablet applications at a fraction of the cost" in a package weighing only 93 grams.

But there's one drawback to this drive making its way into tablets. While the drive is only 5mm thick, the other dimensions are the same as any regular 2.5-inch notebook drive, which makes it rather big for most tablets.

Another problem is reliability. While having 500GB of storage on tap might be a great selling point, OEMs might be a little uneasy about using a hard drive in case that increases support costs.

There's no word on pricing, or whether any OEMs have adopted the drive.

Topics: Storage, Hardware, Tablets

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  • 1.8 or even 1.25 for a tablet would be better but ...

    I suspect there's a hope of marketing this in the ultrabook/laptop space also and cutting the size to even 1.8 would likely reduce the capacity to 125 gb which would be no where near as tempting. This might be the last gasp effort of the next technology to die.

    They should just incorporate the Flash into the drive and make it a hybrid drive, there was some open space inside the drive in the photos I saw. That would be their best shot. With intelligent pre-fetch and write caching they could keep the average transfer rate up except for very large downloads (once you exceed the cache size you can only go as fast as the slowest part of the system).

    Samsung's 3D Stacked Flash Memory will really put pressure on the HDD industry. There may not be a consumer device made with an HDD in it within 3-5 years unless some really innovative HDDs emerge. This drive is pretty innovative but not enough to save the HDDs future.
  • Did someone forget something?

    I saw no reference to power requirements, which are crucial in a tablet.
    I can see it as feasible in a 'reservoir' source for those who need a lot of data on demand, and where demand is low, but not for something like gaming.
    • Did someone forget something?

      "power consumption equal to that of a 64GB tablet"
    • Actual numbers were not provided but it was covered:

      '...results in "power consumption equal to that of a 64GB tablet...'
    • Average Operating Power listed at 1.7w

      according to the Seagate Ultra Mobile Spec sheet, the idle power is 0.48w and seek-typical power is 1.4w.

      A company that conducted a detailed analysis of a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 found that it used 1.9 min to 5.5 max watts during idle and max power draw under load was 7.4w

      Their reference architecture suggests pairing with Flash Cache and using their dynamic data driver. They are obviously looking to manage operational characteristics to maximize power savings.
      • ugh

        I have no idea what
        "Seagate's Dynamic Data Driver software, results in "power consumption equal to that of a 64GB tablet and the performance equal to that of a 16GB tablet"
        even means... sounds like some marketing double talk designed to give a talking point answer that provides no useful information. :-) if anything I think they even got it backwards and it should have said.
        {Seagate's Dynamic Data Driver software, results in "power consumption equal to that of a 16GB tablet and the performance equal to that of a 64GB tablet}
  • Sensitive

    HDDs are too sensitive for tablets
    • Spec sheet indicates it will withstand 400G shock

      The tablet will be destroyed, the screen will be shattered.
    • SHHHH!...

      ... you'll hurt their feelings...
  • "power consumption ... of a 64GB ... and the performance ... of 16GB ...

    In other words, high power consumption, and low performance? Should this quote be the other way around?
    • Should this quote be the other way around?

      Seems like it to the logical mind. either way its marketing gibberish.
  • 500Gb in a tablet?

    Why would I need 500Gb in a tablet in the first place? Even 64Gb is pretty much overkill, unless you wanted to load a hand full of movies into it for a trip. But, if I were going to spend my whole trip staring at movies on a tablet, I would just stay at home and watch them on a big screen.
    • It doesn't matter what you think you need

      Just because you don't need it, doesn't mean I will not have use for it.
  • Sensitivity

    I also think HDDs in a tablet would be a bad idea due to the likelihood of shock damage. No matter what Seagate says about the unit's ability to handle shock, it is mechanical. It will fail sooner or later. Why would they offer the data retrieval and replacement if they were not admitting that it may well be necessary? And how long would I need to wait for that data retrieval and the replacement hard drive? What would I use for the rest of my round the world trip if the thing fails half way around? Years ago I chose a Dell Mini 9 with a solid state, rather than mechanical, hard drive for use on a motorcycle trip (not round the world) specifically to avoid loosing it's use due to vibration.
  • I can see one good use...

    Put this into Windows tablets, then the Surfaces and Yogas have a chance of being able to actually replace laptops (maybe even some desktops) in real world use.
    • tablets should not be viewed as a laptop replacement

      for most people. They are what they are. Stay away from the keyboard - if you can't find the tablet useful enough as-is, then you don't need one. It will always be a compromised experience if seeing it as a laptop/PC replacement.
      • There it is! The whole point is that today's tablets ...

        ... can do 90% of what the average consumer once did with their PC - and it is much more portable than a PC for about the same money. Add in web-apps and cloud-based storage and overall simplicity and portability and the tablet - even with its shortcomings - is hard to pass up.

        Android tablets run from ~$160 (8GB, WiFi) to ~$500 (64GB, LTE). iPads run from $329 (16GB, WiFi) to $929 (128GB, LTE).

        With notebook/netbook PCs running from ~$250 to well over $1,000, and the Macintosh STARTING at $999, there is a lot of overlap for those who want/need the power of a fully-functional personal computer offering preemptive multitasking.

        For instance, I can sit at home with my Surface RT tablet and access all of my work-based computing resources and, at the same time, access another PC on my personal LAN and my cloud storage and my web apps.

        Having a keyboard and mouse on my Surface RT tablet gives me access to all of the computing resources I need from a small, light, tablet which I can take with me anywhere.
        M Wagner
  • At best, this will only be a stop gap for Seagate. How long before ...

    ... 500GB SSDs will be available and cost effective? Sure, SSDs are still around $1.00 per GB but the higher the capacity, the lower the cost per GB. 3.5" 1 TB HDDs are selling for under $0.10 per GB so how long can it be.

    The more important question is: "How important is 500GB of storage on a mobile device?" - especially considering that such devices automatically connect to cloud storage and a wealth of web-based applications.
    M Wagner
  • Nothing new

    I've had an Archos 7o (7" Android tablet) with 250G HD for over 2.5 years. Never had a problem with it.

    It's great to have ALL my music files on it plus videos, movies, etc., and never have to worry about running out of space.