S’pore research centre launches next-gen hybrid hard drive

Deborah Choo
A*STAR's Data Storage Institute launches their 5mm hybrid hard drive on Thursday. (Yahoo! photo/ Deborah Choo)

For about $73, consumers may in a year be able to buy a portable 5mm hybrid hard drive that instantly connects via wifi to your phone or tablet to provide additional storage space.

During a press conference on Thursday, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*STAR)’s Data Storage Institute (DSI) launched “A-Drive”, one of the world’s thinnest 5mm hybrid hard drives in a 2.5 inch form factor.

It provides up to 1 TB Hard Disk Drive (HDD) with 32 GB Solid State Drive (SSD) – the equivalent of storing up to 250,000 songs for a price that “passes the wife test”, executive director of DSI, Dr Pantelis Alexopoulos said.

At the launch of the drive at the DSI’s 20th anniversary gala dinner that evening at Resorts World Sentosa, S Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry, called it a “potential game changer”.

“Compared to conventional hard drives, hybrid drives will enable higher performance at lower power consumption,” said Iswaran.

The A-Drive, which can target the consumer and enterprise markets, could fit into tablet devices, expanding its storage space while extending battery life by up to 30 per cent.

A cheaper alternative to SSDs currently used in ultrabooks, it offers the same capability with a larger storage capacity. The A-drive can also be extended for enterprise storage applications, reducing power consumption by up to 50 per cent.

Alexopoulus added that if you lose SSDs, even the code for encryption can be broken, but this is not the case for A-drive. He assured added security within the drive so that no one can access it even if it is lost.

Western Digital earlier in September this year launched its 5mm hybrid hard drive for Ultrabook laptops which has a capacity of 500 GB. Companies Acer and Asus have already signed on to using the new drives in their laptops.

Responding to this, Alexopoulus disputed that he does not view Western Digital or any other similar firms as competitors,  but rather as potential customers whom they can collaborate with.

DSI is currently in talks with partners to market the A-drive in Singapore. Alexopoulus estimated that it would take them about six to eight months from the time a partnership deal is confirmed to manufacture the product.

Demonstration of how A-drive works