Hitachi enters 4TB club


— 10:57 AM on December 12, 2011

Add Hitachi to the list of hard drive makers offering 4TB drives. A few days after the Deskstar 5K4000 appeared in Japan's Akihabara district, Hitachi has made the product official. The press release isn't exactly overflowing with details about the new model's technical specifications, but a little digging on Hitachi's website reveals just about everything we need to know about the 5K4000.

As one might expect from its name, this latest Deskstar has a 5,400-RPM spindle speed. 4TB is still new territory for mechanical hard drives, and we've yet to see a drive of that capacity running at 7,200 RPM. Although it certainly doesn't need the bandwidth, the Deskstar is equipped with a 6Gbps Serial ATA interface. Short burst transfers in and out of the drive's 32MB cache memory will surely make better use of the interface's speed than sustained transfers, which won't exceed the 162MB/s peak transfer rate of the platters.

We've seen some 5,400-RPM hard drives deliver impressive sequential throughput by employing high-density platters. That's not the case with this new Deskstar, which has an areal density of only 443 GB/in²—only a modest upgrade over the 411 GB/in² offered by Hitachi's 3TB drives. The company's datasheets don't reveal the 5K4000's platter count, but if the 1TB-per-platter Deskstar 7K1000.D has an areal density of 569 GB/in², I suspect the 5K4000 is a five-platter design. Hitachi has a history of hitting new capacity points with five-platter designs.

Obviously, some 5K4000s have already made their way onto the market. Hitachi expects to start shipping the drives in volume in the first quarter of next year. The Deskstar will sell for $400 on its own, and it will also be available inside a Touro USB 3.0 external enclosure for $420. Hopefully those prices will come down substantially as the mechanical hard drive industry recovers from the devastating Thailand flooding that sent prices skyrocketing a couple of months ago.

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