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Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST) on Thursday announced its new hard disk drive (HDD) for mobile computers. The new drive that features 500GB capacity is currently the largest storage solution for mobile computers and may also be used in small form-factor desktops.

Hitachi Travelstar 5K500 offers 400GB and 500GB capacities, features 5400rpm motor, 8MB of cache and Serial ATA-150/300. The manufacturer declares 5.5ms average latency as well as 12ms average seek time for the new hard disk drives. The unveiled Travelstar 5K500 HDDs feature three 166GB platters, which are currently the largest in the industry. The Travelstar 5K500 drives also feature optional Bulk Data Encryption (BDE) for hard drive level data security.

Since the new 2.5” hard drives utilize three 166GB platters, the new HDDs have 12.5mm height, while normally mobile hard disk drives use two platters and have 9.5mm height. As a result, not all notebook chassis are compatible with the new mobile HDDs by Hitachi. Still, considering that the new devices are mainly positioned for multimedia-oriented notebook systems that have plenty of space inside chassis, such limitation is unlikely to become a drawback.

 “The Travelstar 5K500 was designed to address some important trends taking place in today’s notebook computing market. Consumers tend to think of their notebooks as less of a pure technology tool and more of a mobile entertainment device for taking large libraries of movies, music, games and pictures on the go. As a result, notebooks are now starting to ship with wide, high definition screens and large, high quality speakers for playing digital audio and video. Hitachi’s new Travelstar 5K500 responds to these dynamics with the features, design innovations and technologies that enhance the overall entertainment experience,” said Larry Swezey, director, consumer and commercial HDD, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies.

Hitachi will also offer an enhanced-availability (EA) version, called the Travelstar E5K500 – also available in both 400GB and 500GB capacities – which is designed for applications requiring 24x7 operation in lower transaction environments, such as blade servers, network routers, point-of-sale terminals and video surveillance systems.

The Travelstar 5K500 will be available worldwide in February. The Travelstar E5K500 will be available by the end of the second quarter, 2008.

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