A*STAR unveils 5mm-thick hybrid hard drive, touts affordability and improved energy efficiency

Move over, Western Digital. A*STAR's Data Storage Institute (DSI) has developed its own 5mm-thick hybrid hard drive, and it could pack up to a 1TB HDD and a 32GB SSD within its 2.5-inch confines. Aptly dubbed A-Drive, the firm's razor-thin hardware relies on a new proprietary motor and 30 additional design patents to lower power consumption and achieve its diminutive form factor. The outfit envisions the drive being put to work in tablets, where it could stretch battery life by up to 30 percent, and in ultrabooks or business-centric storage solutions. To top things off, A*STAR says its hybrid drive will be cheaper than SSDs currently used in ultrabooks, and Yahoo! News reports the device could ring up at roughly $73. Can't wait to have the hardware in a machine of your own? Hold your horses, vaquero. According to DSI Executive Director Pantelis Alexopoulos, it might take six to eight months to kick off production after they strike a deal with a manufacturing partner, which hasn't happened quite yet.

Update: After some discussion in the comments, the post has been updated to clarify that the drive's HDD could have a 1TB capacity.

[Image Credit: Yahoo! photo/ Deborah Choo]

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A*STAR's Data Storage Institute Launches Next Generation 5mm Hybrid Hard Disk Drive

SINGAPORE, 1 November 2012: The "A-Drive", one of the world's thinnest 5mm hybrid hard drive in a 2.5'' form factor, was officially launched by Mr. S. Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade & Industry, to commemorate the Data Storage Institute's (DSI) 20 years of R&D in the area of data storage capabilities.

The "A-Drive" represents the next generation of storage innovation providing capacities of up to 1 TB Hard Disk Drive (HDD) with 32 GB Solid State Drive (SSD). This potentially allows the "A-Drive" to store over 250,000 songs in its 5mm body. The "A-Drive" also addresses limitations of the popular, yet expensive, flash-based SSD, as well as the conventional HDD for the consumer and business industry.

DSI's "A-Drive" is set to change the consumer and enterprise landscape, targeted specifically for tablets, ultrabooks, and future data centres. With its slim form factor, the "A-Drive" could fit into tablet devices, greatly expanding its storage space while extending battery life by up to 30%. The "A-Drive" will be a cheaper alternative to the SSDs currently used in ultrabooks, offering the same instant-on capability but with larger storage capacity. In addition, the "A-Drive" can be extended for enterprise storage applications, reducing power consumption by up to 50%, resulting in greener and more efficient data centres with better optimisation of the already limited rack space.

"Today, our year-long vision of creating a 5mm thin hybrid hard drive in 2.5'' form factor with increased storage capacity and reduced power consumption at a lower cost for manufacturers has become a reality," said Dr. Pantelis Alexopoulos, Executive Director of DSI. "We have managed to fit an amazing amount of innovation and advanced technology into a thinner, cheaper, and faster design, and we think the consumer and enterprise impact will be significant."

One of the main challenges in reducing the thickness of current 7mm hard disk drives by almost 30% without compromising on its performance and stability is its spindle motor design. To achieve a reduction in size, DSI researchers developed a proprietary axial field motor which runs smoother, quieter, more efficiently, lowering power consumption by up to 70% yet at a fraction of the cost of SSDs. The motor's design has been patented, along with 30 other unique designs for the "A-Drive". In addition, DSI has collaborated with multinational corporations and local companies, such as Seiko Instruments, Miyoshi, and Unisteel, to develop key components for the "A-Drive".

"Our capabilities today have been the result of two decades of collaboration with industry partners around the world. This has enabled DSI to develop groundbreaking solutions like the 'A-Drive'. We look forward to future partnerships as we continue our drive towards new innovations that will shape the data storage landscape," said Dr. Alexopoulos.

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A*STAR unveils 5mm-thick hybrid hard drive, touts affordability and improved energy efficiency