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Hitachi's new super-pendicular hard drive

Hitachi's new super-pendicular hard drive - Travelstar 5K160 combines perpendicular recording & IrMnCr read heads for industry's most technically-advanced mobile hard drive.

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Category : Digital Storage Devices
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Hitachi's new super-pendicular hard drive
Press Release:
With concerted and meticulous effort to develop, test and bring to market new perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology that would stand up to or exceed the reliability expectations of current longitudinal recording technology, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi) has achieved its goal by shipping today the most reliable and technically-advanced 2.5-inch hard drive in the Travelstar 5K160. The 160-gigabyte (GB) Travelstar 5K160 is a 5400 RPM 2.5-inch hard drive designed for notebook and mobile computing.

So impressive is Hitachi's new PMR implementation that the company has dubbed the Travelstar 5K160 the "Super-pendicular Drive" for its best-of-breed reliability performance and leadership specifications. The same winning technology and process used to implement PMR on the Travelstar 5K160 will be replicated across Hitachi's product lines, including the next-generation 1.8-inch hard drive, slated for delivery in the latter half of 2006.

The top three contributors to hard-drive reliability are technologies that most strongly resist media corrosion, head instability and head/disk interference. Hitachi has addressed these factors through the following mechanisms, which have significantly impacted overall drive reliability:

Implementation of Hitachi-unique alloy combination and layer-deposition process produced PMR media with best-of-breed properties for corrosion resistance;
Use of new PMR write head greatly improved soft error rate through ability to write smaller data bits more sharply and with greater fidelity;
Use of the read-head alloy iridium-manganese-chromium (IrMnCr) showed more than a 2X improvement in field reliability among available hard drives using the new IrMnCr read sensor (separately announced today; see Hitachi's animated video for explanation of IrMnCr http://www.hitachigst.com.license2read).

Together, these technologies have seemingly produced a "drive of steel," which exhibits industry-leading drive-level reliability attributes, based on Hitachi's internal testing. These qualities are a strong indicator for an extremely fast volume ramp for the Travelstar 5K160 potentially, the fastest of any Hitachi hard drive product which is slated for the third quarter of this year.

"What we've achieved with the Travelstar 5K160 is a credit to our technical teams' methodical, single-minded approach to excellence, which we adopted from the start of the PMR development process," said Hiroaki Nakanishi, CEO, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. "Our mission was to deliver PMR technology when it's of the highest value to our customers, which is when the transition from longitudinal recording would be seamless in all regards, including reliability, performance, volume ramp and cost. By all measures, that time is now."

"The move to perpendicular recording is a challenging but necessary one, which is required to support the increased demands in notebook capacity, especially as we see video applications gaining popularity," said Campbell Kan, Head of Mobile Computing Business Unit, Acer Inc. "We applaud Hitachi for its meticulous effort in rolling out this promising new storage technology and assuring a smooth transition."

The Super-pendicular Drive
The superior reliability demonstrated by the Travelstar 5K160 is due in large part to the second-generation head and media technology at work in the drive. First-generation technology was used on drives that Hitachi implemented in its PMR field test conducted since December 2004.

Second-generation technology involves major changes to both the write head and the recording media. Hitachi closely integrated development of the media and head to optimize their performance, which is a key enabler to the superior reliability results of the Travelstar 5K160.

Before product development began in earnest, perpendicular media showed lower mechanical reliability than longitudinal media. Perpendicular-media development required a rethinking of reliability metrics and anticipation of new potential failure mechanisms to help ensure the highest levels of corrosion resistance and mechanical robustness. Using Hitachi's broad experience in process, materials and equipment engineering, state-of-the-art perpendicular media was developed and transitioned to large scale manufacturing with impressive speed and stability.

Hitachi's second-generation write head acts like an extremely fine pencil-point capable of writing very sharply-defined data bits that can be packed closely together without distortion. This is important due to the high areal density of PMR drives. The increased clarity and fidelity of the written data allows the drive to deliver better bit-error-rate performance and, therefore, better reliability margin.

As a vertically-integrated company, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies has the internal resources necessary for the development, optimization and verification of the dramatic changes required for PMR. Hitachi, Ltd. provided additional support, horizontally, from across its engineering practices.

"We marshaled resources from throughout Hitachi, Ltd. to exploit the best minds in materials science engineering to achieve a product of this caliber," said Dr. Michiharu Nakamura, executive vice president & executive officer, Hitachi, Ltd., Hitachi Group CTO. "The ability to tap this breadth and depth of engineering knowledge is a powerful and unique formula for creating the world's most reliable hard drives."

"Matsushita has established a strong reputation for the quality and reliability of our systems. Hitachi's recent announcement of the 5K160 2.5inch hard disk drive is a good example of how the hard disk drive industry continues to make excellent progress in improving not only the capacity of 2.5-inch drives for notebooks, but also the basic reliability and robustness," said Mr. Takagi, Director, IT Products Division at Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, Ltd. "Matsushita looks forward to working with suppliers such as Hitachi to continue to strengthen our leading-edge Toughbook series of notebook computer systems."

Extensive Testing
Perhaps the strongest component of Hitachi's PMR effort was the internal verification and testing process. A typical product launch might involve the production of several thousand drives, of which several hundred would go into intense stress testing. In the case of the Travelstar 5K160, Hitachi produced approximately 20,000 drives and stress-tested more than 5,000 with impressive results, demonstrating reliability characteristics which exceed Hitachi's previous notebook hard-drive generation the Travelstar 5K100 which has the best-of-breed reliability performance .

Hitachi also produced and tested several hundred prototype PMR products, which not only provided valuable data for the eventual production-level product, but also yielded excellent reliability results. In addition, a worldwide field test of notebook systems running Hitachi PMR drives showed outstanding performance with no end-user failures.

Leadership Specifications
In addition to high reliability and volume ramp, Hitachi's criteria for shipping its first PMR product was to offer leadership specifications. For a 2.5-inch mobile platform, this means the drive would also have to represent the best attributes for notebook and portable applications: low power, cool-running, high performance and excellent shock resistance. Hitachi has delivered that and more with the Travelstar 5K160.

The Travelstar 5K160 offers industry-leading power consumption and heat-emission characteristics, which contribute to the host system's overall battery consumption and life expectancy. In addition, the shock resistance of the 5K160 shows leadership capabilities in boundary testing. The drive also exhibits leadership performance in application benchmark testing. The Travelstar 5K160 offers 80 GB per disk platter on one- and two-disk products for an upper capacity of 160 GB.

The Travelstar 5K160 will be available in US retail locations this summer at an MSRP of $269 USD for the 160-GB product. A Travelstar 5K160 Notebook Upgrade Kit will also be available at $299 USD.

1.8-inch on PMR
Hitachi's 1.8-inch hard drive will follow its 2.5-inch brethren in adopting PMR technology in the latter half of 2006. Targeted at the consumer electronics market, the new drive is expected to offer greater capacity with the lowest power consumption of any 1.8-inch hard drive, due in large part to a reduction of the disk spin-speed to 3600 RPM from 4200 RPM. Hitachi's new 1.8-inch drive is expected to have a 20-percent improvement in read/write power consumption and the fastest power-on-to-ready time for immediacy of data delivery. Hitachi's new drive is expected to continue its reign as the lightest 1.8-inch drive with industry-leading shock robustness and acoustics.

These new 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch hard drives support Hitachi's strategy to roll out PMR first on small-form-factor mobile products to meet the demand for data-intensive video applications on handheld and mobile devices.

Technical Specifications Travelstar 5K160:
  • 160/120/80/60/40 GB (GB = 1 billion bytes, accessible capacity may be less)
  • 9.5 mm in height
  • 102/102/95/95/95/95 grams in weight
  • 5400 RPM
  • 131 billion bits per square inch maximum areal density
  • 4/4/2/2/1 recording heads
  • 2/2/1/1/1 platter(s)
  • 325 G (2ms) operating shock
  • 1000 G (1ms) non-operating shock
  • 540 Mb/s max. media transfer rate
  • 11 ms seek time
  • 5.5 ms average latency
  • 100 Ultra DMA mode-5/SATA 1.5 Gb/s
  • 8 MB data buffer
  • 0.80 w active idle
  • 0.60 w low power idle
  • 2.5/2.5/2.2/2.2/2.2 Bels typical idle acoustics
  • 5 to 55 degrees C operating temperature
  • Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) spindle motor

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