Today, Western Digital is announcing a new addition to its Scorpio line of 2.5" hard drives. This latest drive, model WD2500BEVS, weighs in at a cool 250GB thanks to second-generation perpendicular recording technology that packs 125GB onto each drive platter. The WD2500BEVS spins at 5,400RPM, so it won't be the quickest mobile drive on the market, but it comes equipped with 8MB of cache and a Serial ATA interface for newfangled notebooks. Unlike some high-capacity hard drives that have been announced recently, you should be able to buy the 250GB Scorpio immediately for about $199.
More interesting than the Scorpio's 250GB capacity and immediate availability are a couple of new features Western Digital has added to the mix. The first and most intriguing of these is IntelliSeek, which can be thought of as just-in-time actuator movement. Normally, a hard drive's actuator moves the head to the next data point as quickly as possible, regardless of when that data point is expected to be in position to access. IntelliSeek takes advantage of the rotational latency inherent to spinning media and moves the drive head only as fast as necessary to get it into position for the data point. This optimization can allow the drive head to move more slowly, reducing power consumption, noise, and vibration. Western Digital is adamant that IntelliSeek doesn't actually impede performance, and they've put together a handy illustration of it in action that will unfortunately resize your browser window.
In addition to smartening up the Scorpio's seek mechanism, Western Digital has improved the drive's robustness with a cluster of measures dubbed ShockGuard. ShockGuard includes actuator tweaks, firmware enhancements, and an increased slider gap that allows the heads to move completely off the disk, all of which improve non-operating shock tolerance. Shock tolerance is particularly important to the Scorpio's target market of notebooks, as it is in another area where Western Digital is seeing increasing demand: external 2.5" enclosures for users whose portable storage needs outpace the capacity available from USB flash drives.
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