WD’s 1 TB 2.5″ drive

by Robin Harris on Monday, 27 July, 2009

Western Digital today announced 2 new “mobile” 2.5′ drives. The WD Scorpio Blue 750 GB and 1 TB drives are both shipping. Here’s the official word from WD.

WD Scorpio Blue 750 GB drives (model WD7500KEVT) are available now through select distributors and resellers; the 1 TB capacity (model WD10TEVT) is available now configured into My Passport Essential SE USB drives. The . . . MSRP for the WD Scorpio Blue 1 TB drive is $249.99 USD and for the 750 GB version it is $189.99 USD. WD Scorpio Blue hard drives are covered by a three-year limited warranty. More information about WD Scorpio Blue mobile hard drives may be found . . . at http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=685.

These are both 12.5 mm drives – too thick to fit into most notebooks – hence the quotes around “mobile.” But I’d love to get one into a LaCie rugged drive case.

2.5″ is coming of age
2.5″ drives are catching up with 3.5″ drive capacity. 5 years ago the highest capacity 2.5″ drives were about ¼ or less the capacity of the largest 3.5″ drives. In last couple of years that closed to around ⅓. With this announcement that gap closes to ½ – until the next 3.5″ announcement.

This has more to do with vendors disengaging from the 3.5″ form factor than anything magical about 2.5″. As consumers buy more notebooks, more higher-margin notebook drives are sold. This is factored into R&D budget reviews and the investment dollars flow to the smaller form factor.

The StorageMojo take
Drive vendors are wondering how they can move the enterprise to the smaller form factor without losing the margins they enjoy on “enterprise” drives. Vendors have relied upon drive rpm, interface, MTBF and unrecoverable read error rate to differentiate enterprise from consumer.

All 15k drives have used 2.5″ platters for years. FC drive interfaces won’t make the jump to 2.5″ and 6 Gbit/sec SATA provides a lot of bandwidth. MTBF numbers face warranted criticism. SATA URE rates need improvement as capacities climb.

Perhaps the 12.5mm – or Savvio’s 14.5mm – form factor is key. With more height comes mechanical advantages that can be important to the enterprise: performance; capacity; reliability. And in a form factor that notebook vendors won’t embrace.

However that develops, congrats to WD for getting these to market first. My 3.5″ drives are looking as clunky these days as 5.25″ once did.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. Hey, drive engineers, how about helium-filled enterprise drives? Lower power, lighter weight (LOL), less heat and maybe even more rpm from the same platters. Pete, can your guys comment?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt Simmons July 27, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Almost makes me wonder what they could get into a drive case if they still used the old Bigfoot form factor ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_Bigfoot_(hard_drive) )

Ernst Lopes Cardozo July 27, 2009 at 1:07 pm

If we really must have ‘enterprise’ drives, let them build 7200 rpm drives with two actuators, arms and heads. That gives 1500 rpm IOPS at almost 7200 rpm power. Or dual actuator 15k rpm drives that perform like 30k rpm drives would. But frankly, the data explosion has brought down our average data ‘temperature’ (i.e. IOPS/GB) so much that striped 7200 rpm drives are just fine for the job. Any freak applications can be put on SSD. So lets forget about ‘enterprise’ drives with their bloated price tag. That game is over.

F.D. Athow July 27, 2009 at 4:02 pm

@matt simmons two years ago, I told Robin about this idea and how essentially recycling an old form factor could potentially replace tape drive altogether. After all, Intel recycled P3 technology and got us the Centrino/Core . A 5.25-inch drive could EASILY reach 10TB storage using 10 platters.

Pete Steege July 28, 2009 at 9:14 am

Love the Helium idea…the acoustics would move up in frequency. Nice!

Robin, you’re right that the future looks like 2.5″ SAS and SATA, and that performance enterprise has already made the switch. Just look at HP’s server line up these days if you have doubts.

2.5″ ‘mobile’ drives have very little to do with enterprise drives. Unlike 3.5″, even the width is different. This has lead to a new-to-the-world class of 2.5″ 7200 rpm enterprise drives, since notebook drives won’t ever have what it takes to support enterprise. They come in SAS or SATA (which says a lot, given the idealogical differences between the SAS and SATA disk drive contingents), currently up to 500GB.

It’s rare these days to see a totally new animal in the disk drive world. Check it out. Seagate’s version is called Constellation. It’s the (till now)missing link for the 2.5″ enterprise form factor to go “all the way”.

Joe Landman July 28, 2009 at 11:58 am

The helium would likely leak out. Helium does that. The multi-actuator is a good idea, though you need to decouple induced motion of the actuators somehow. Hard to do in a rigid platform (vibration causes longer head settling times). I could imagine a self-reinforcing positive feedback scenario where you got the heads into a very odd mechanical situation…

ch July 28, 2009 at 5:14 pm

a few things that differentiate enterprise from consumer:

1. better firmware — while many features (e.g. ncq and end-to-end crc) have been “lost” to the consumer offerings, the enterprise firmware is still better. e.g. an enterprise drive does not go out to lunch for an extended period of time if it hits a bad block.

2. increased robustness to rv — this is partly firmware, extra processing capabilities in some cases, partly testing, plus reduced pressure on maximal areal density. (spindle capture design, too, in the past, but i’m unaware of this today.) rv matters a lot in arrays.

3. vendor relationship — negotiated afr’s to support warranty programs, joint root cause analysis for failures, joint testing, certified firmware, firmware fixes for fielded drives, firmware continuity, etc.

#3 is a big deal, and it is often overlooked.

Jean July 29, 2009 at 8:49 am

Spinning disks will never replace tape. They are to fragile, cost 5 to 10x more than tape media at equal capacity. Along with tape you save lots of energy required to maintain PetaBytes. A single large tape library with Petabytes of data in it is equivalent to a hand full of hair dryers in there energy. Not the case with PetaBytes of spinning disks and if you include all cost associated to disk tape shine even more.
Tape manufacture Imation tried with an LTO like drive and cartridges with disk in it. Never had success because of the above.

MAID never capture market share either. Will be much nicer when SSD drop price…At that time only tape will also be on the horizon the be EOL…

Spinning disk, including DVD and Blue ray are on their last legs. SSD will sweep the floor within 5 years or less.

James Money July 29, 2009 at 3:38 pm

How about a “A BATTERY POWERED HERMETICALLY SEALED HARD DISK DRIVE WITH USB3.0-OTG CONNECTIVITY” that has Dual Actuators and 1.6 TB of storage using 4 2.5-inch disks.

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