Last week Toshiba unveiled a series of server-class hard drives that can store as much as 600GB in a 2.5-inch form factor. They're the first products to result from its acquisition of Fujitsu's hard drive business early last year. Set to begin shipping in April, the new MFB series of serial-attached SCSI drives also includes 300GB and 450GB capacities, sport a 6Gb/s interface, and can optionally self-encrypt all data based on the Trusted Computing Group Enterprise Security Subsystem Class specification. Self-encryption can potentially save IT departments hundreds of hours of labor in key management, data retrieval and scrubbing.

The drives also are rated to consume up to 28 percent less power than similar models, and can therefore be packed more densely without concern for excessive cooling requirements. "We do have customers that ask [about power consumption]," said Darryl Riddlespurger president of StoreHouse Technologies, a storage solutions provider in San Diego. "And we would point them to [Toshiba] for their power requirements."

In addition to direct-attached server storage, the drives are intended for storage arrays, blade and rack-mount servers and near-line applications, according to Joel Hagberg, vice president of enterprise marketing at Toshiba. "And for cooling, the ability to improve airflow becomes important. These drives run at less power." This is accomplished by enabling the drive to spin at a slower speed when not in use. Though pricing was not disclosed, the three-platter drives are expected to sell for about US$1 per GB, according to Hagberg. According to Riddlespurger, that's about what his company pays for 3.5-inch drives of the same capacities, but those drives spin at 15K RPM, which offer slightly faster transfer rates than the 10K Toshiba drives. Still, Riddlespurger said, "with the benefit of having a smaller drive, we'll be able to offer more density with the same capacity. That will be good thing."