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Seagate shows world's thinnest portable drive

GoFlex Slim down to 9mm thick

Storage giant Seagate has announced that it will put on sale what it claims is the world slimmest ever portable hard drive, and for once the hyperbole stands up to scrutiny - the new GoFlex Slim drive is only 9mm thick.

Does thinness matter? For comparison, the company's current GoFlex portable drive is 14mm thick, so 9mm and a weight of 160g represents the very edge of what is possible for a storage drive based on spinning HDD technology.

As publicity stills show, the drive's width is about the same as that of a pencil and not much larger than the bulk of many smartphones. Internally, the drive used is a new version of the Momentus Thin drive announced in late 2009 to star in ever-smaller and thinner laptops and netbooks.

That drive is 7mm thick, which means that the GoFlex Slim puts only 1mm of casing either side for protection although modern 2.5 inch drives come with shock absorbtion built in, makers say.

"Netbooks and slim laptops are great for consuming media, but are limited when it comes to creating and storing high-definition films and photos," said Seagate's retail storage vice president, Patrick Connolly, by way of explaining the thinking behind the reduced size.

The technical spec is also up to date, featuring a 7,200rpm spin speed (5,200 has been common until now for such drives), and USB 3.0. The drive is unencrypted at rest but does come with an unnamed backup suite that allows 192-bit DES. This is probably the one element in which it lacks; lose the drive and its contents are vulnerable.

Probably as important is that the drive will go on sale in May for the competitive price tag of $99 (approximately £61) for the entry-level 320GB model. The prices for larger capacities have not been announced, nor what those capacities will be or when they might be put on sale.


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