Western Digital Shows off 5mm Ultrabook 500GB Hybrid Drives

At Intel’s IDF 2012, today, we sat down and met with Bob Griswold from Western Digital. Bob showed us Western Digital’s latest developments by ways of hard drives. Western Digital is cooperating very closely with Microsoft and Intel to develop new drives for Ultrabooks. These drives are specifically designed for Intel Ultrabook designs because they are only 5mm thick.

What being 5mm thick enables, is the ability to fit into practically any ultrathin notebook or Ultrabook and at the same time deliver 500GB of storage. Most Ultrabooks nowadays ship with 128GB of 256GB SSDs, this enables users to utilize significantly more storage without having to sacrifice storage. This thickness is accomplished due to the fact that the 500GB drive is a single platter drive and uses a new connector, SFF-8038.

Western Digital will be working with OEMs and ODMs to work on developing the connector standard further and to determine whether or not the connector will be a direct connect into the motherboard or a ribbon cable. In addition to that, the Hybrid drive version of these drives will be the Black Edition. The Blue Edition is the 500GB hard drive that does not have any NAND flash and is just a 5mm drive.

These drives will be shipping in varying NAND capacities ranging from 8GB to 32GB depending on the placement of the Ultrabook. Obviously, a 32GB NAND based hybrid Black Edition drive will cost more than one with 8GB, as such, those lower NAND drives will be targeted towards cheaper notebooks and Ultrabooks. We have asked Western Digital regarding which NAND had been used in the hybrid drives, and they did not have an answer for us, however, they did say that their have their own proprietary software drivers that will enable wear leveling as needed.

Overall, we’re excited to see a new NAND based product from Western Digital, and we’re hopeful that it will deliver a quality experience for consumers while also promising more storage space on Ultrabook and ultra thin notebook designs.