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Big Jump For Tablet Storage: Seagate Intros 5mm Hard Disk For Tablets 201

Posted by samzenpus
from the give-me-more dept.
cold fjord writes "ZDNet reports, '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. 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.' More at The Wall Street Journal."
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Big Jump For Tablet Storage: Seagate Intros 5mm Hard Disk For Tablets

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  • no thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 09, 2013 @02:36PM (#44800647)

    no thanks. I'm more interested in moveing devices from mechanical to solid state, not the other way around.

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      Wonder how well the drive can take constant shocks and jostling that tablets are subject to. I may not be a HDD expert, but I wonder if just the tapping on a screen might be enough to cause a head crash, especially on a higher RPM drive.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, the iPod was such a huge failure.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Yes, but compared with what solid stat drives can do, it's a bad idea. Microdrives have been out for years, but outside of studio work, they were never very popular amongst photographers.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Sorry, folks, but these editors need to be keelhauled, boiled in oil, or tarred and feathered. When I see "5mm hard disk" in a headline that has no summary on the front page, I think that this is a micro-sized HDD that is 5mm wide. That would be an incredible jump in density! In fact, this is a STANDARD 2.5in sized HDD that is only 5mm thick. They have been making HDDs roughly this size FOR YEARS.

            Occasionally, I come back here to read some "news," and I am quickly refreshed on why this site has sunken into

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          Yeah, the iPod was such a huge failure.

          The hard drives iPods used weren't 5mm thick.

      • Re:no thanks (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jones_supa (887896) on Monday September 09, 2013 @03:21PM (#44801343)

        Wonder how well the drive can take constant shocks and jostling that tablets are subject to. I may not be a HDD expert, but I wonder if just the tapping on a screen might be enough to cause a head crash, especially on a higher RPM drive.

        There is no way that tapping the screen would cause a head crash with any hard drive. Disks inside laptops would be dead too soon if that was the case. However if you drop the tablet on a floor, we can start talking about whether this kind of drive would be damaged. Obviously, flash memory will be better in that kind of situation. Of course there are other components to take into consideration too, such as the screen, which might crack when the tablet is dropped.

      • Wonder how well the drive can take constant shocks and jostling that tablets are subject to. I may not be a HDD expert, but I wonder if just the tapping on a screen might be enough to cause a head crash, especially on a higher RPM drive.

        Generally, the smaller things are, the better values they have for such parameters as mass-to-cross-section ratio and other stuff related to mechanical sturdiness and shock resistance. I'd expect that smaller disks would be sturdier than larger ones for this reason alone. You don't have to be an HDD engineer for that. ;-)

      • Wonder how well the drive can take constant shocks and jostling that tablets are subject to. I may not be a HDD expert, but I wonder if just the tapping on a screen might be enough to cause a head crash, especially on a higher RPM drive.

        I still use a HighDef camera to record video and it uses a Hard Drive to store the information. I've shaken it enough to feel that taping a tablet with a HD won't cause it to crash. Shaking it heavily would cause the software on the camera to respond to keep the HD from getting damaged however so I would think a similar situation would happen on a tablet. I'm going to guess that a Hard Drive solution would be fine for a tablet unless you're shaking it violently around. Might be more fragile than a SSD if yo

      • My old Palm Lifedrive (4 gig microdrive, CompactFlash sized) got bashed around a bit without a single problem.
        They generally include accelerometers in to the drive its self so if extreme motion is detected it can park the head in a couple of milliseconds resulting in no damage at all.

        You are right that if it is spinning and reading data when it gets impacted then you have issues, but if it is parked then it is fine.

    • Re:no thanks (Score:5, Informative)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Monday September 09, 2013 @02:51PM (#44800905) Homepage Journal

      no thanks. I'm more interested in moveing devices from mechanical to solid state, not the other way around.

      Absolutely.

      My old iPod I treat with utmost care because the little booger has a spinning disc in it. I've seen enough head crashes in my day I don't want one in something without a Field Service Tech a phone call away to handle. Also, I'm rather clumsy with some of my more delicate electronics (hence ordering an Otterbox Defender for my mobile phone) and have been known to damage things with shock.

      Why not an SSD at this stage?!? Sure, it's a few extra bucks, but I wouldn't consider anything mechanical storage memory except in a RAID config in a static system.

      • You can replace the spinny drive with Compact Flash in most cases.
      • by WCLPeter (202497)

        My old iPod I treat with utmost care because the little booger has a spinning disc in it.

        I used to speed walk with my old 5th Gen iPod with the 30GB spinning disk in it, tucked it into shirt pocket where it bounced around quite a bit. After all this time it still works just fine, though the age of the battery means I barely get 6 hours out of it and something happened to the audio jack recently so I can't hear anything out of it anymore; I've been debating on getting it fixed because it just works so well.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      The original iPod had a small hard drive inside. It was the only way at the time to have a reasonable amount of storage. At that point in time, the iPod had around 10 GB of storage, which may not sound like a lot, but a lot of other MP3 players at the time had something like 64 MB of storage. Hardly even enough for a whole album. There's tons of laptops out there which don't have problems with mechanical drives. Any drop that would damage the drive would probably break something else as well, like the sc
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      I actually want something to replace my ipod classic..

    • no thanks. I'm more interested in moveing devices from mechanical to solid state, not the other way around.

      I suspect that you'll have enough change left over to wipe your tears away. They aren't even going to pretend that it's as good; but it'll be markedly cheaper and less awful than those "Just carry an HDD in a battery powered wifi enclosure and access it with our App!" abortions that people market as capacity expansion...

    • I feel the same way, mainly because I don't store a lot of really bulky data on my tablet. That would be mainly videos and high res jpgs from dslr. I don't load videos because I don't want to feed the hollwoody mafia, nor do I want to get into surreptious downloading, and I don't want to deal with constant out of space on the flash drive. I don't use the tablet with my camera because connectors are a pain and Google doesn't build camera connectivity into Android because the leading project in that space is

    • Typical Slashdot whining in this thread! Dismissive at first glance of anything that doesn't immediately fit what you know is best.

      I was excited to read about this, and I'll cheer on Seagate for advancing this technology. I've owned an old 4th or 5th generation iPod for about 6 years, it has one of the 80gb small disks in it. It's been through everything and I've dropped it probably a dozen times (a couple really bad). Haven't had a single hardware issue with it (don't get me started on Apple's proble
  • by timeOday (582209) on Monday September 09, 2013 @02:37PM (#44800665)
    With PCs, a piece of hardware could start of as an add-on for enthusiasts, then be integrated by an OEM if it was gaining traction. (Accelerated 3d graphics, for example, caught on this way). But tablets and cellphones are so monolithic that end-user swapping of storage is practically impossible.
  • by solafide (845228) on Monday September 09, 2013 @02:37PM (#44800675) Homepage
    Couldn't we just say 500gb up front and be done with it, instead of having a bogus multiplier on a meaningless size? What's next, "this hard drive holds 30 Library of Congresses, which are each 6x the capacity of a regular library?"
    • I don't know, but 640G would be enough for anyone.

    • by Minwee (522556)

      It's designed to replace the 64G of flash storage used in existing tablets, so comparing the new product with the old one is not unreasonable.

      If your new Library of Congress was designed to fit in exactly the same space and have the same weight as a regular library, then saying that it has 6x the capacity of a regular library would be a useful point of comparison.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        It's designed to replace the 64G of flash storage used in existing tablets, so comparing the new product with the old one is not unreasonable.

        Except that this isn't. It's a 2.5" laptop hard drive that's 5mm thick. In other words, they cut the thickness of a laptop hard drive to a little more than half their normal height and cut the capacity in half to match.

        By my math, this hard drive takes up about 35 cubic centimeters of volume. A 128 GB SD card takes up about 1.6 cubic centimeters. All told, then, t

    • Couldn't we just say 500gb up front and be done with it, instead of having a bogus multiplier on a meaningless size? What's next, "this hard drive holds 30 Library of Congresses, which are each 6x the capacity of a regular library?"

      Too close to reality to need meaningless facts...

      What is the image size in that newfangled 40MP phone that Microsoft
      and Nokia are shilling for? Link a tablet to the auto-down load of
      the phone and in no time the 500GB is filled up. Compound that
      with HD video and this is nothing.

      The resolution of a quality image on an iPad retina display makes a
      decent screen to crop images for but no one tosses the master file
      so 40MPx24bitcolordepth is a lot even when JPEG encoded.

      Clearly the 100,000 photos could fill up

    • by dpidcoe (2606549) on Monday September 09, 2013 @03:39PM (#44801587)
      obligatory XKCD: http://xkcd.com/1257/ [xkcd.com]
    • Sorry, Mr. USA translate-everything-into-our-outdated-measurements-standard. That's 1.62 LoCs for you, Yankee.

  • SSD or GTFO (Score:4, Insightful)

    by babtras (629678) on Monday September 09, 2013 @02:37PM (#44800677)
    I'm not keen to have spinning parts in a device that I drop a couple times a day.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 09, 2013 @02:45PM (#44800833)
      You drop your tablet a couple times a day? You'd better keep the fuck away from anything I own.
      • The other night, I was watching Netflix in bed on my iPad. It was propped up on my chest, and I was using one hand to hold it upright. Well, at one point, my hand slipped, and the iPad flopped at what must have been light speed right onto my nose. Ever been hit on the nose by something hard? My eyes were watering, and the pain didn't go away for what seemed like millenia.

        Anyhow, I'm not sure what might have happened to a spinning hard disk in this case, but I AM sure my nose would have hurt just as much

    • by Minwee (522556)
      So don't drop it a couple times a day. </MARX>
      • by babtras (629678)
        Unfortunately, tying a string around my wrist and attaching it to the tablet isn't very convenient or stylish. Butter fingers is a curse I just have to live with
      • There's "drop" and there's "drop". I don't drop my tablets on the floor on a daily basis. But I pick them up and set them down dozens of times each day. Sometimes I set them down flat, sometimes leaned against a book or sofa leg. Sometimes I throw them onto my bed or sofa. And occasionally I do drop them.

        My desktop I pick up and set down approximately zero times a day and my laptop I pick up and set down two or three times a day and mostly it's not running when I do that.

    • by adisakp (705706)

      I'm not keen to have spinning parts in a device that I drop a couple times a day.

      So you replace the tablet often??? Tablets screens will crack on a single drop if the screen lands on a hard surface [youtube.com] or usually shatter if the tablet lands on an edge as well.

      • I bought a cheap 7" Android 4.1 tablet from a company called Mediasonic in July 2012.

        I bought it for my kids, and got it on sale for about $80 (+tax & shipping).

        My kids are (now) 2 and three years old.

        Surprisingly the tablet still works despite constant abuse from my kids. I should havr bought two, but I didnt think my kids would fight over it as much as they do.

    • by Vicarius (1093097)

      Why?

      Folks at Seagate also want to eat.

      • The folks selling horse buggies/carriages also needed to eat. Don't tell me nobody working at Seagate saw the writing on the wall: the future is solid-state storage. Seagate, Western Digital and the others should be working with SSD technologies and funding holographic 3D storage technologies, not advances in soon-to-be-dead spinning physical media.

  • Literally, throw tables on tables, drop them on the floor, all sorts of shit.

    Seagate needs to get on the SSD bandwagon or shut up. A tablet with moving parts is pretty retarded.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      Sounds a lot like what a kid might subject a disk based iPod or Archos to.

      We've already been there and done that. Spinning rust is not nearly as fragile as the fashinistas of tech want you to think.

      "bandwagon" is the word for it. Usually associated with mindless following and bad rhetoric.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday September 09, 2013 @02:40PM (#44800727) Homepage

    These things better be really reliable, because a tablet is going to get used in all sorts of angles, is likely to be jostled around a lot more, and might find itself in a case where the accelerometer of the device is being used to control a game.

    SSD has the benefit of not having moving parts ... a tablet or a phone sounds like the last place you'd want a spinning platter to be used.

    And 3oz is, what, just shy of a quarter pound? What does the 64GB of flash memory we're comparing this to weigh?

    Sounds like trying to turn a tablet into a laptop or something.

    • Depends on how it's packaged. The 32GB microSD card I have at hand weighs ~half a gram. I think an eMMC package has a bunch more pins, and thus a bit more wrapped around the die or dice, so maybe several multiples of that. A whole bunch of discrete packages (either because you really need the speed or you are using low density stuff) might be more.
    • ...yes, because the hard drive based iPods never worked out.

      Oh, wait.
    • ....snip...And 3oz is, what, just shy of a quarter pound?....snip....

      Since when is missing by 25% "just shy".

      N.B. You must ante up 33.333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333%+ a bit to break even.

    • by bengoerz (581218)
      History teaches that hard drive manufacturers are rarely concerned with reliability.
    • by kesuki (321456)

      "Sounds like trying to turn a tablet into a laptop or something."
      which would suit microsoft just fine. windows 8 disc images utilize 6 4.7gb dvds 28 gb. just because android can be designed to install a factory image from a 4gb ssd, doesn't mean microsoft can do the same. a 500 gb hdd would suit the next gen surface tablet just fine.
       

  • There's are very practical and unchangeable reasons why mobile devices use flash devices for storage instead of hard drives... and I'm really kind of surprised that Seagate would not have already realized this.

    Moving parts means that the device is inherently more fragile... less resilient to shock, and introduces points of physical failure that don't exist with solid state storage.

    A spinning hard drive means that you're going to be wasting a whole lot of energy driving the motor... probably more than

    • I have this vague memory of a device called the 'iPod Mini' being wildly popular and widely considered portable...
      • by jedidiah (1196)

        We have an iPod 2 that is still functional and for awhile had more storage capacity than any of our fancy new smartphones.

    • by WarJolt (990309)

      Moving parts means that the device is inherently more fragile... less resilient to shock, and introduces points of physical failure that don't exist with solid state storage.

      Disk drives act like gyroscopes, however smaller drives can stop faster and have less rotational momentum at the same RPM.
      Flash is shock sensitive too. I've ruined USB flash sticks by dropping them. I hate moving parts too, but I think it's possible to make a mechanical drive less shock sensitive then flash with the proper safety features. Your experience with standard drives isn't really relevant to these new mobile drives because they are very different physically.

      I say give them a chance and we will see

  • by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Monday September 09, 2013 @02:42PM (#44800761)
    When everyone is moving from magnetic storage to solid state storage, Seagate is going against the tide.

    Storage media with moving parts are bad enough for laptops, let alone tablets that get moved around a lot, dropped, sat on, etc.

    If Seagate suits really want to see this thing fly, it'd be much more interesting to put these drives into laptop for some badass RAID arrays.
  • I tried using one of the compact flash format hard drive many moons ago. Stupid things would break with the slightest bump.
  • A device with no moving parts counts as basically indestructible (under normal circumstances) as long as the screen doesn't crack. Cracking the screen takes a hell of a lot more force than crashing a HDD head into the platter whirring just a few microns below it.

    And as another perk, strong magnetic fields largely don't affect flash, until you start getting into strengths that pose a health risk to the human using the tablet. The standard method of wiping a HDD uses a relatively weak (on the "causes huma
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      You would think so, but I beg to differ. I've had 2 Kobo eReaders fail on me, both in less than 6 months (second was a replacement unit). In the first case, the thing just got stuck on a reboot loop, so that's some kind of firmware error as far as I could figure, still unfixable from my point of view. Second was half the screen being stuck, which is a hardware error. I've had plenty of solid state devices die over the years. Possibly more often than I've had mechanical devices fail.
  • ...because of surface-to-volume and scaling considerations, the smaller these things get, the less fragile they get. I dropped my iPod Mini (rotating drive) at least as often as I dropped my current flash-memory iPod and never had a problem. Yes, battery life is an issue. Quite possibly, service life might be an issue (bearing wear).

    Seagate is claiming [seagate.com] 400 Gs maximum operating shock. I, um, gee, well truthfully I have no idea what that means in practical terms but it seems like a big number to me. They are

    • by nabsltd (1313397)

      Seagate is claiming [seagate.com] 400 Gs maximum operating shock. I, um, gee, well truthfully I have no idea what that means in practical terms but it seems like a big number to me.

      A 100G impact will turn a human being into a collection of loosely assembled parts with an infinitesimal chance for restoration to correct function.

      A 400G impact will turn a human being into goo.

    • Well, typical ceramic/glass/china dishes are generally good for 100-125Gs of impact force. So, about 3x as durable as your mom's good tableware. Which is good, but probably not drive-away-with-it-on-the-top-of-your-car good.

    • by Guspaz (556486)

      400G would definitely resolve that complaint, but shoving an enormous HDD into a tablet (roughly 35 cubic centimetres) is silly. That's a laptop-sized drive that would be too big for an ultrabook, let alone a tablet. Shrinking it down from 7mm to 5mm doesn't magically make it appropriate. That's many many times more volume than the eMMC in tablets consume... that's enough for an extra ~26 Wh of battery capacity, which is more than half the battery capacity of an iPad.

  • There are already at least 480GB (close enough to 500, in books) **mSATA** SSD drives (Mushkin made the first I know of), which makes the drive in this post positively gargantuan.

  • and call for msata to be added to tablets?
    There are already 512 gig drives on the msata scale and they're tiny (51 x 30 x 0.8mm) so, why re-introduce mechanical harddrives which are larger?

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      There are already 512 gig drives on the msata scale and they're tiny (51 x 30 x 0.8mm) so, why re-introduce mechanical harddrives which are larger?

      Cost. Your 512GB SSD is unlikely to cost $50 or so that something like this spinning rust would.

      In fact, most 512GB SSDs cost around $500 or so, so unless you want to double your tablet price and then some (I'm sure Microsoft would love to tell you how well their Surfaces sold back when they were $900), using a huge SSD isn't really practical.

      Spinning rust has be

      • but the cost has gone drastically down.
        I bought a 64 gig micro sd for about 100$. Now i see it for less than 40$.
        When ssds came out they were expensive, like 2-4$ a gig. Now it's less than .50 cents per gig at some levels.
        An ssd that's 1tb costs around 650$. In a year that will be 400$, in 2 years probably 200$. I don't see how "spinning rust" will ever get cheaper. It'll be replaced by solid state memory in no time.

  • Putting 8GB of flash cache in front of a 5400RPM hard drive is not going to give you the performance of a pure flash drive. I don't care how good your caching algorithm is or how many rigged benchmarks you win (comparing only on sequential read/write doesn't count!), you're not going to be as fast. Particularly since flash scales performance with size - a 64GB SSD will be faster than an 8GB SSD of the same type, ignoring any hard drives it may be a cache for.

    Will it be "SSD-like performance"? Probably, yeah

  • I wouldn't call them desperate but I think they are seriously underestimated the intelligence level of their customers.

    -Matt

    • by hjf (703092)

      what does this have to do with intelligence?

      most people i know can't be bothered with "secondary storage". and 32-64GB of storage is "too little". i know at least 2 persons who would like to carry their whole movie collection in their laptop so they bought CD-bay-to-HDD-bay converters to let them install a second 500GB or 1TB disk in their laptops.

  • Units, much? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doofus (43075) on Monday September 09, 2013 @03:15PM (#44801291)
    I love the jumble of Imperial and SI units in the summary. Great work!
    • I love the jumble of Imperial and SI units in the summary. Great work!

      Maybe he's British? They like those kinds of inconsistencies.

  • I'm genuinely interested in hearing what the benefits of this are. It seems like mSATA drives are more or less on parity with this in terms of size and capacity, but have the benefit of increased longevity, reduced noise, and lower power consumption.

    I honestly think spinning hard disks are going to go the way of CRTs within the next 5 to 10 years. And there's a high probability Segate will go with it.

  • Back in my day, we used a ragged piece of orange duct tape and a portable mechanical 320 GB seagate for our tablet storage and we liked it.

  • I thought they were talking about a 5mm diameter hard drive, seeing as hard drive sizes have been reported in diameter for as long as I can remember. I was wondering how they were going to engineer something that small and still have a useful storage size. :)

  • but how many Libraries of Congress?

  • So if I pay the WSJ to reprint my press release (which is what Segate did), will Slashdot post my marketing copy too?

    Let's compare this drive to the size of an iPad mini (because I'm familiar with that tablet, insert your own tablet of choice).

    This drive is 2.5" still; that's huge compared to the size of an iPad mini, 512GB of surface-mounted flash is half that size or less.

    It is 5mm thick, the iPad mini is 7.2mm thick. Would there even be room for the screen? 512GB of flash is less than half that.

    It weighs

  • It's an iteration of the CompactFlash Microdrive format, really, not so revolutionary. I've got a 4GB Hitachi Microdrive bought maybe 5 years ago. The platter is probably about the same diameter, though with an obvious increase in areal density.

    • by macraig (621737)

      Addendum: if the tablet makers (and others hadn't turned their backs on the CF format in favor of the smaller-but-performance-challenged SD and MicroSD formats, they would have been better positioned to deal with higher capacity micro-platter storage like this as a consumer add-on years ago. Then we'd now be seeing 500GB user-swappable CF cards instead of this internal fixed storage.

  • The drive is the 2.5" form factor, 5 mm thick. That's slimmer than what shows up in most laptops, but I would wager it is still larger than what is allocated to storage in most tablets. How many tablets use a 2.5" form factor drive, even if it is SSD? In most cases, it's a collection of flash chips soldered directly to the logic board.

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