We've seen this lament on more than a few reviews: 16 gigabytes isn't enough storage for a mobile device anymore. Prolific hard drive vendor Seagate would like to offer an alternative to the sometimes stingy flash storage standard. Even 2.5-inch laptop drives are generally too big and power-hungry for tablets, but Seagate's new Ultra Mobile HDD crams up to 500GB of storage into a module just 5mm thin.

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In addition to the thin design that could potentially fit in almost any tablet casing, the hard drive weighs only 3.3 ounces and uses as little as .14 watts of power. Of course hard drives can't match the speed of flash storage, so Seagate is also throwing in its proprietary Dynamic Data Driver with the OEM package. An "intelligent caching system" will reportedly allow hardware to use up to 64GB of shared storage at any given time without sacrificing speed or power consumption. Maybe this flexible cache is the reason that Seagate didn't use the even smaller 1.8" HDD standard. The dynamic driver also includes drop detection for some extra data security when your tablet takes a tumble.

This isn't the first integrated hard drive we've seen on Android - that honor goes to the the Archos G9 series (Seagate also provided the OEM hard drives for those models). That design decision didn't really catch on, but then Archos has always catered more to the budget and media-happy crowds. It will be interesting to see if any of the larger manufacturers take Seagate's offer and start building Android tablets with storage that could rival laptops.

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Seagate Technology plc (NASDAQ:STX), a world leader in storage solutions, today took the wraps off the new Seagate® Ultra Mobile HDD designed exclusively for mobile devices. Integrated with the Seagate Mobile Enablement Kit which includes Seagate’s Dynamic Data™ Driver software technology, the new storage solution delivers up to 7x the storage capacity of a traditional 64GB tablet with the same power, performance and reliability of a flash device.

“When comparing side by side a tablet and a portable PC, today’s tablets are trading off storage capacity in order to realize a thin and light form factor device and long battery life,” noted John Rydning, IDC’s research vice president for hard disk drives and semiconductors. “Seagate’s new Mobile Enablement Kit will bring PC-like storage capacity to future thin and light tablet designs, and position Seagate as a potential storage solutions provider to the fast-growing tablet market.”

Seagate has addressed several key areas beyond a standard laptop HDD to optimize mobile applications with the Ultra Mobile HDD and Mobile Enablement Kit. These areas include shock management, heat and vibration and gyroscopic motion— all of which have been heavily tested to ensure the drive delivers the best experience in a tablet solution.

Seagate Dynamic Data Driver Software

Keeping pace with today’s mobile storage demands presents other challenges as well including power consumption requirements, device drops by consumers and user demands. Merging the new Ultra Mobile HDD with the Dynamic Data Driver software alleviates these obstacles enabling OEMs to comfortably fit high-capacity storage into mobile devices.

Seagate’s use of Dynamic Data Driver software addresses these challenges through a combination of system design considerations. Reduced power consumption and improved performance are achieved through an intelligent caching design that is implemented at the system level. As a result a mobile device using 8GB of flash and the Ultra Mobile HDD and Dynamic Data Driver software have the power consumption equal to that of a 64GB tablet and the performance equal to that of a 16GB tablet— while costing less than either.

The software provides drive protection through the use of enhanced motion sensor and thermal monitoring algorithms to control drive access and avoid usage conditions that might harm it. The drive is so well insulated that in many cases a dropped device’s screen would break before its hard disk drive.

To further reinforce reliability for mobile devices, the Ultra Mobile HDD integrates Seagate’s own Zero Gravity™ Sensor providing better shock management. Incorporated power modes support the drive in sleep, standby and idle enabling it to consume as low as 0.14W and support the long battery life demanded by tablets. Its slim, rugged design allows it to be utilized in new emerging applications like convertible and detachable storage.

Leveraging the company’s experience with ultra-portable applications like iPods, MP3 players, and handheld video recorders, the newly-engineered 2.5-inch drive is just 5mm thin while weighing in at a mere 3.3oz— about the same as a light bulb. Featuring up to 500GB of capacity, it delivers the highest areal density available in a small, ultra-thin form factor while supporting over 100,000 photos, 125,000 songs or 62 hours of high-definition video and movies.

The Seagate Mobile Enablement Kit includes the Ultra Mobile HDD, Dynamic Data Driver software, and an optional customized reference design which allows HDD-powered tablets to transparently deliver high-capacity storage space to an end user in a mobile solution. The kit is currently designed to support the Android operating system.

The Seagate Ultra Mobile HDD will be available separately and as part of the Seagate Mobile Enablement Kit. Dynamic Data Driver software not sold separately. For more information on both products please visit http://seagate.com/www/mobilekit.

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • William

    And we are back to spinning disks...

    • Spin

      7200 RPM 4 LIFE!

      • Matt

        My 10,000 RPM Seagate Velociraptor is still spinning...though I probably should upgrade to an SSD at some point..

        • shadowdude777

          The Velociraptor was made by WD, not Seagate.

        • mechapathy

          Holy mother of heat footprint!

        • Andrew

          I don't know about 10K RPM, never owned one, but moving from 7200 HDD to SSD made my laptop ridiculously faster.

        • Cory_S

          Hehe I use to have 5 of them in a Raid 5. Turning my PC on was like powering up a reactor.

    • shadowdude777

      Tomorrow: HP shows off 5mm thin tape storage reel developed specifically for tablets!

      Day after: IBM shows off 5mm thin punch-card system developed specifically for tablets!

    • Mayoo

      + the need for active cooling on a tablet ...

    • gltovar

      exactly what I wanted in my tablet.... moving parts!!!!

    • Steph Chi

      Hard disk in a tablet ??? For me, deal breaker !

    • Hal Motley

      Well at least there will be actual demand for a defragmentation app. XD

  • LewisSD

    That wold be sick if OEM's could put this much memory in their tablets. No more need for sd card slots!

  • Andrew

    But I do not need hard drive in my tablet!
    On other hand, if we are talking Windows 8 Pro tablets, HDD makes some sense. But only until next price drop on 512+ SSDs.

    • Guest

      Why does it makes sense on a Windows 8 tablet more than another tablet?

      • Andrew

        Because Windows 8 Pro tablets are essentially a PC. Capable of running application suites (e.g. MS Office, Adobe CC) that occupy huge amount of space. So cheap and vast storage is great option for these machines.

  • Cory_S

    if the Nexus 5 doesn't have a hard drive slot, deal breaker.

    • mechapathy

      Just one? I want bays for days!

      • http://meatcastle.com/ Youre My Boy Bloo

        Swap it like it's hot!

        • mechapathy

          Hahahah awesome.

  • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

    O_O I would love to see this standardized. I don't even really care if this limits how wafer thin our devices are. I think anything smaller than the transformer infinity is getting into the "to thin" territory anyway

  • TY

    I can see how this would be useful on hybrid tablets, e.g. Asus transformers, Microsoft Surface etc.

    • PhoenixPath

      Even then it should be SSD, not platters...

      • Colin Kealty

        an SSD is expensive, especially that small, this is a cheap technology made small for mass storage. I think, if they can find some way to have the OS on nand memory and then have the harddrive able to enter some safe mode where physical shock would not damage it, that would be interesting. Of course also it would need fast spin up times

        • daniel sutton

          from the article,

          "An "intelligent caching system" will reportedly allow hardware to use up to 64GB of shared storage at any given time without sacrificing speed or power consumption"

          • Colin Kealty

            right, sorry, i meant to say if they can keep the disk safe in addition to having the OS on nand memory, I saw the part about the caching system but mis-spoke

        • PhoenixPath

          "an SSD is expensive, especially that small,"

          An SSD is a series of chips on a wafer of silicon. You don't get much thinner than that. The first SSDs I got from Samsung didn't even have cases. They were literally chips on a wafer of silicon with a connector and bracket.

          The expense has dropped considerably and as we have no idea what this platter drive costs, any discussion of price is meaningless.

          • Colin Kealty

            SSDs are still very expensive to make, and I meant small in terms of memory density, as in to get 500gb of memory in the space of a 500gb harddrive, yes it's possible, and frankly done easily, but without adding significant cost?

          • PhoenixPath

            Not the point.

            let me restate my original post more clearly:

            If, in order to get 500MB, we have to go anywhere near spinning platters, it is not worth it. Regardless of cost. If it's not feasible...we wait.

            In no way, shape, or form, should we be putting spinning platters in mobile devices. (Unless we really like lost data.)

          • Colin Kealty

            for you, sure, unfortunately you aren't every consumer on the planet, so if there is a market of consumers who will take the spinning platter in order to get their 500gb, they will make spinning platters that store 500gb, because some people think it's worth it, I highly doubt we'll see a shift towards it so I wouldn't worry about it becoming a standard over nand, but for now it's not a horrible idea

          • PhoenixPath

            " because some people think it's worth it, "

            Some people think aliens have infiltrated every government on the planet. :)

            Sorry, but no. This may have some small niche use in mobile, but it will never be mainstream and the majority of people viewing this article will never see this in any of their mobile devices.

            Note that I am not saying this tech is useless. It very possibly may become the default in other tech areas, just not mobile.

          • Colin Kealty

            I never said it'd make mainstream, I said there may be a market for it, and there's no way of either of us knowing for sure if that's true or not, but I can name at least 3 people that I know that would get it instantly. no, that's not a good sampling, nor is it indicative that anyone else in the world would even consider getting it, but it's just showing that something like this being put in mobile and actually being viable is not beyond the range of possibility.

            You also might be thinking of the wrong type of mobile. What about those windows laptop tablet hybrids? The windows/android laptops? I'm sure this would be very welcome in a chromebook-like device (I say chromebook-like because I'm sure google would rather keep storage in the cloud, granted samsung/hp/anyone can do whatever they want), those are all mobile computing

          • PhoenixPath

            My original comment was 100% directed at the mainstream use of this product in mobile devices, as have all of my comments following.

            ...and yes, that includes laptops. When considering this drive over SSD in any mobile device, SSD should be the preferred option for mainstream use.

            (If my kids chromebooks had sold with spinning platters, I'd not have bought them.)

          • Colin Kealty

            this entire argument is just cyclical, I say there's an existing market, you say there isn't, neither of us can prove either exists so this conversation is now pointless

            Sure, you might not have bought a specific TYPE of chromebook, but there are also ssd based netbooks and HDD based netbooks, they are different options for different peoples preferences. Some might want the chromebook NOW but can't get it as a viable option because storage is extremely limited and they don't have a way to access "the cloud" to save everything there.

            But again, this is entirely cyclical and I've just added to it, so there's really no further point in discussing it as this is purely speculation into a market we have no insight on

          • PhoenixPath

            "I say there's an existing market, you say there isn't,"

            In my original comment I made no such claim, nor did I ever claim no market would ever exist for this device.

            My original comment was merely a preference of non-movable parts over movable parts for data-storage on a mobile product. It had nothing to do with cost, feasibility, or economy; simply implying that in mobile use, data is safer on non-moving storage than on a spinning platter.

            My posts after that merely expanded on that original statement and even outright stated other markets may exist.

            But yeah, we're well beyond idle discussion at this point...

          • Colin Kealty

            wait hang on.. have we been arguing against each other but not each other's points? Cause I never meant that this should be mainstream and never said that, but rather that producing SOME mobile devices with it would be good for some people.

            I just assumed you meant this is never going to happen and no one would want that but looking back I think I could equally interpret what you said to mean "I don't think this is a good replacement for SSDs and we should continue along that path" to which I would say this is a nice alternative WHILE we make our way towards the ideal point for SSD storage size

            Safety of the data isn't necessarily a huge concern I don't think, ipod classics are still made with harddrives because per gigabyte they're cheaper, so you can offer the consumer much larger amounts of data, with the sacrifice of safety and reliability

          • Parcours

            >In no way, shape, or form, should we be putting spinning platters in mobile devices.
            Totally agree with that.

        • quatermass

          SSD is already obsolete.

          R-RAM allows GBs of RAM which also behaves like storage. So in 5 years we'll have 500GB of storage which doubles as RAM the size of a stamp.

  • DforDesign

    Tap]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]spinning]]]]]]]]]]]]open app

  • Mayoo

    In a world where SSD are taking over to achieve tremendous performance, this is the dumbest idea I ever seen.

    Next week : Micro-VHS tape ...

    • Matt

      Then an Android-powered Minidisc player.

    • GraveUypo

      in a country where people whine about paying more than $200 on a mid-to-high-end tablet, you want to fit them with $800 parts. good thinking

  • Himmat Singh

    Would HDDs slow down the performances of phones and tablets? Anyway, I think SSDs prices will continue falling in time to come, so we will be seeing bigger storage spaces in tablets. There is already a 128GB iPad4 selling in the market. Going to HDDs, even if it'd afford you with tons more space, seems regressive in nature to me.

    • Imparus

      "Would HDDs slow down the performances of phones and tablets?"

    • cwagner

      > Would HDDs slow down the performances of phones and tablets?

      If you put the OS on them? Or regularly running apps? Yes.
      If the tablet is optimized for this sort of hybrid system? If you don't access the HDD unless it is for big media files (games that put their media there would load slower)? No, the tablet would have the same performance.

      I guess it depends if people want massive media storage in exchange for more points of failure, heat and marginally worse performance when accessing that media.
      Personally the space on my N7 32GB and N4 16GB are enough for everything I want (well, actually the N4 is sometimes a bit starved as I try to keep the latest 2 NAND backups on it taking up nearly 6GB …)

  • daniel sutton

    I don't understand the negative manner in which this is being received. Every modern computer uses the exact same setup: quick cache with substantial space for frequently used programs and OS (usually an SSD) and then slower bulk storage internally or externally in a Raid. This just placed a massive SD card inside a tablet with a quick access large cache and yet it seems to be scoffed at because it involves moving parts. I understand that once Flash based storage is economical it will displace platters but until bulk storage is far cheaper the reality is hybrid systems like this. For everyone that complains the nexus 7 has too little storage or whatnot here is a perfect solution. A power efficient bulk storage solution with a SSD like 64GB part and a massive true HDD next to it. If these are similarly priced, it would be tough to justify the purchase of a 16GB tablet sitting next to a similaryly priced 256GB or higher cousin with no performance or financial penalty.

    • Himmat Singh

      There will still be a performance penalty. The time taken to read the content stored in the HDD will take considerably longer. Also, don't forget stuff like weight, heat distribution etc.

      • daniel sutton

        An "intelligent caching system" will reportedly allow hardware to use up to 64GB of shared storage at any given time without sacrificing speed or power consumption

        This puts it at the same performance and speed as the largest tablets now with 436GB of slower access bulk storage for free. It weighs as much as a lightbulb. Heat dissipation is just another engineering challenge to be met and seems to be the only inconvenience faced by the new technology the same way that hiDPI screens and gpu's have been engineered.

        • TylerChappell

          Actually, you failed to take into consideration that a 500GB harddrive is actually around 464GB, so it would leave only 400GB of "slow" storage. Still plenty for a tablet though. Idk wtf I would even put on a tablet with that much storage, tons of games and media etc, but I'd still have probably well over 200GB left.

          • GraveUypo

            if you'd have over 200gb left it means that you could use 230 more gbs than you have now.

            i want a 200gb+ smartphone. maybe 4 sd slots? k tks.

    • Giacu Truss

      Regardless of performance, I think the concern with a spinning drive with actuators and heads, is that they're not supposed to be moved around as the actuator arms can hit and damage the disks. Seagate mentions that it has a shock management system (zero Gravity), can't comment on how effective that is though...

    • Mike Harris

      The problem with this "solution" is that it while it provides more storage, it unnecessarily introduces a completely new problem – making a portable device a lot more fragile because of the moving parts. It also drastically reduces its lifespan, as moving parts will eventually fail (and do it a lot sooner than their counterparts that have static parts).

  • Elias

    Apps, thumbnails and the OS on flash storage, media (music, videos, photos, etc) on the slower magnetic storage. Given the drop detection actually works, seems like the perfect compromise to me. I'd be happy with 128gb of media on my phone, so a smaller form factor may be acceptable.

  • Jachym Kokesh Lukes

    I think I won't go the path of mechanical parts in my storage in mobile devices.

    • Matthew Fry

      That really is a major consideration. These things are meant to be never opened, always on, and last for years. Although, if heat isn't properly managed (as we saw on the 360) silicon can be as fragile as tiny mechanical parts.

      • sweenish

        The heat issues of the 360 have nothing to do with its hdd.

        • Matthew Fry

          I never said it was. I was comparing fault-prone mechanical parts to silicon.

  • MeCampbell30

    No thanks. I'll stick with solid state devices.

  • Matthew Fry

    I think that eventually, 500GB will be needed if we start recording daily in 4K. But really, there are not a whole lot of reasons to have that much storage in a tablet. Even corporate scenarios seem unlikely to need that much storage. Really cool though.

    • james kendall

      one word multimedia. video and audio can chew though a lot of storage space if you have a larger media library.

  • Jose Torres

    Cyclic Redundancy Errors here we come!!!

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/moneta.mace Mace Moneta

    With terabyte RRAM storage components now available to be incorporated into tablets and phones, rotating, slow, power sucking drives seem like a bad idea.


  • Leonardo Baez

    for so many reasons I dont thinks this is a good solution. HDD are so fragile.
    Still have mechanical parto that can fail. Solid State is movement free, fall proof, etc.

  • Roger Siegenthaler

    I could see this being useful if placed in the stand/keyboard of many transformers as those are less likely to get thrown around and in general it just makes more sense.

  • Le Derp

    I just had a vision. Because i'm a hipster, im saying we should make this a floppy disk.
    But like a 500gb floppy disk. Super vintage with tons of space for your pr0n

  • Navitron

    Samsung 840 evo... 500GB $369.99, 1TB $649.99. Sure not at par with HDs price per GB, but how crap were getting there. I'm using a 80GB SSD that cost me almost $300 that I bought 3 years ago. 1TB used to cost 3k+.

  • John O’Connor

    Platters? no thanks. ain't nobody got time for that or some other meme.

    Any small MOBILE device such as a smartphone, phablet or tablet, has no business with such an easily ruined critical storage medium being a primary piece of the device.

    I guess I will just wait for I/O 16 and the release of the Pixel Ultra (dualboot chromeOS v83/Android 6.62 S'mores convertible) with the flexible OLED solar charging display, graphene battery pack and holographic storage.

  • Toboe

    So, this is meant to go as an ADDITION to the normal SSD? Then it's an interesting idea, IF it uses the SSD for system stuff (read: usable even in conditions to "shaky" for the HDD) and the Detectors + the caching algorithms are as good as they claim.

    Oh and what is the upprice for it?

  • james kendall

    About time micro hd's caught up with the mobile device market. would love to have that much storage available on my tablet although 500Gb dose seem a bit excessive for a mobile device.160 should be plenty for most users.

  • antiorganic

    tell me when they integrate ssds

  • Sergio

    Perfect to carry your movies with you. I think it's a good idea for tablets and set-top boxes.

  • RTWright

    Wow..... It seems no matter how you look at storage on Tablets or Phones, everyone complains. For starters, what did you expect? They have to start somewhere. Yeah, SSD would have been preferred ( Don't give me the "It's MORE expensive to make SSD's because it's not, they already make a form that's int he devices already ). Before if you even mentioned a microSD slot, it was like people would bitch for the sake of bitching that they're too difficult to use ( Well yeah if you have the mindset of a 2 year old sure ) and or they take up more space inside the device ( Again, wrong! You thought they did? THIS tops microSD's big time and is slower! ).

    As I've said so many times, expandable storage is the way to go over any other form of storage and that includes CLOUD ( Basically a renamed version of FTP with a different UI on it ). You having your files on your device, on a media that you can physically have with you no matter where you go is much safer and secure way to store and backup files. Wireless connections just aren't 100% stable enough to depend on anything else. That aside, my looking at this HDD for Tablets, I do have to agree with everyone here on their legitimate complaints of it being Platters and moving parts. Because unlike Desktop computers and more so than Laptops, I find that Tablets get tossed around a great deal more. They're thinner, lighter and this poses a problem with the stability of such technology.

    If that tablet gets dropped, regardless if the tablet itself is damaged, that HDD could go to the crapper in a hurry because of how it's built. Ask anyone who's dropped an external HDD before, they do not last most of the times. That's all this is but much MUCH thinner. It's still far more fragile than one would want in a Tablet. As for the cost of SSD's, they're much cheaper now days than they were 3 years ago. They could have EASILY made a SSD as apposed to this. This takes up 3 times the space, will ramp up the heat inside and as stated will be fragile. This is the wrong direction to be going. I'd rather seen them make it where you could use a 128GB microSD than this.

    I'm all for storage, I love it, it's why I own a Samsung GSIII over an HTC or any other brand that does not allow for a microSD card. I will not buy a high end device that does not have that as an option. Regardless of they stupid arguments some of you have against, that's all it is too is stupid... At least I have everything I need with me at all times is all I can say. But I also would not buy a tablet with this kind of backwards technology being used in it and I promise you this, it will not be as cheap as you think. Because it's going to go into a Tablet ( Mobile Device ), they're going to want to charge for making it this thin. They will charge a pretty penny because this is technically the thinnest HDD around.... Have fun with it!

  • quatermass

    Gee, so if I throw my tablet onto my sofa it'll break with this mechanical drive in it? Rather have SSD storage thanks.