Hitachi debuts 500GB laptop drives, but you can't buy them

If 320GB isn't enough storage for your mobile computing needs, Hitachi has a new option that offers a whopping 500GB of space, but with one caveat: it's bigger than standard laptop hard drives.

Hard disk manufacturers have been working hard to develop new technologies to pack ever more data into the smaller hard drives used in notebooks. While standard desktop drives are hitting the long-awaited 1 terabyte milestone, more consumers are opting for laptops instead, demanding similar storage capacities.

Perpendicular recording has made it possible to fit more data onto a single drive platter, and portable hard drives recently reached 320GB in size. But to beat that mark, Hitachi's new 5K500 doesn't rely on new technology; instead, it simply adds an extra platter. As a result, the 500GB drive is also larger in physical size.

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Rather than being 9.5mm thick, Hitachi's drive is 12.5mm, which limits its use in current laptop form factors. That means it won't be sold to consumers, and likely will only appear in notebooks designed specifically to accommodate the larger drive.

Asus will implement two of the drives in each of its M50 and M70 models in order to deliver 1 terabyte of storage in its laptops. Hitachi says OEMs can purchase the 500GB drives for around $400 USD each when they go on sale in February.

Nonetheless, Hitachi will still hold the bragging rights for the largest mobile hard drive over competitors Seagate and Western Digital. Thankfully for consumers, those companies will likely work overtime to develop new ways to fit more data onto their drives without compromising physical size.

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