Mechanical drives are not optimal for ultraportable computers, but in the lower price ranges there are few good alternatives without limited storage capacity. Rumors speak of new superthin 2.5″ harddrives with profiles of only 5mm to remedy this.
According to DigiTimes harddrive makers started planning for the new superthin harddrives in an attempt to meet with the demand for ultrathin computers with high capacities. Current 2.5″ harddrives are 7 to 12.5 millimeter thick, but compared to mSATA SSDs there are plenty of millimeters to shed. The new 5 millimeter harddrives would save 30 percent space and enable even thinner computers with higher storage capacities without the price premium of SSD units.
With Intel’s big focus on ultrabooks and its ultraquick boot times we expect these to be used in some form of hybrid solution, e.g. mechanical drives matched with NAND flash for cache. This would enable fast boot times and high storage capacity in ultrabooks, compared to SSD-based solutions.
Other sources suggest that the new 5 millimeter harddrives are still just in the planning stages and they are still trying to solve the stability problems of the write head and minimize the manufacturing cost of smaller drives. When and if the new superthin harddrives appears in built computers is not certain. The same source points out that starting next year we should see a higher competition for hybrid drives, which could speed up the development of the new format.