Hitachi pushes 250 GB hybrid laptop hard drives for next year

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Tokyo (Japan) - Hitachi will be rolling out several high-capacity laptop drives next year and one will reach 250 GB. The 2.5" hard drives will be based on perpendicular technology where the magnetic bits are aligned side-by-side, standing up instead of lengthwise. The drives will also have integrated flash memory along with hardware encryption.

Hitachi hopes to release a 200 GB 7200 RPM drive in the first half of the year with a 250 GB 5400 RPM drive in the second half. In addition, by 2010 the company believes it can release a 750 GB drive. Currently Hitachi's highest capacity drive is a 160 GB 5400 RPM version.

The new drives are so-called "hybrid" drives, which use a small amount of flash memory to buffer read and writes instead of directly writing to the drive platter. Buffering the writes lowers the power usage, something that is obviously very important to laptop owners, by allowing the platters to only spin when something needs to be written or read.

Hybrid drive manufacturers are betting that this will add a few extra minutes of battery life to the average notebook. In addition to battery life, hybrid drives promise faster boot times and recovery from hibernation.

The drives will also include a hardware encryption chip that can automatically secure the entire drive with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption.