Hitting its latest milestone in the mobile hard drive capacity race, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies has announced a new 2.5" hard drive capable of storing no less than half a terabyte of data. Beating previous contenders for the title of largest notebook hard drive by a comfortable 180GB, the new Hitachi Travelstar 5K500 has a 5400 RPM spindle speed, an 8MB buffer, and a 300MB/s Serial ATA interface. Hitachi rates the 5K500 for a seek time of 12 ms, an operating noise level of 24dB, operating shock tolerance of 400G, and power consumption of 0.7W when idle and 1.9W under load.
How did Hitachi cram 500GB of storage capacity into this drive? As it turns out, the 5K500's platters have an unremarkable 260Gb/in² areal density, but there are three of them instead of two. This brute force approach would be commendable if it hadn't increased the drive's thickness from the standard 9.5 mm to 12.5 mm. According to Engadget, this extra bulk means the drive won't fit in most notebooks and external enclosures. As a result, Hitachi will reportedly only sell the drive directly to PC makers.
Along with the 500GB model, the Travelstar 5K500 lineup includes a 400GB drive with the same specifications. Both flavors have optional Bulk Data Encryption functionality, which helps keep data safe but also reduces the Serial ATA interface speed to 150MB/s. Hitachi has also announced Travelstar E5K500 hard drives, which are available with the same capacities but optimized for 24/7 operation. 5K500 models are scheduled to become available worldwide in February, followed by their E5K500 siblings by the end of March.