Hitachi Designs Endurastar Hard Drive for Extreme Driving Conditions

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies today announced two new automotive hard drives that are tough enough to take on the harshest roads — even those less traveled. The Endurastar(R) J4K50 and N4K50 are Hitachi’s fourth-generation hard drives geared for automotive applications, such as navigation, digital entertainment (music/books/video), telematics and truly mobile computing.

Featuring a wider temperature range and an industry-leading altitude range, the new Endurastar drives also incorporate leadership shock-absorption technologies to take on pot holes and other surface vibrations as far as a car can drive. The J4K50 and N4K50 feature the highest storage capacity in an automotive-class hard drive with a top capacity of 50 gigabytes (GB).

“The automotive segment is a fun and unique customer set that continues to challenge our technological capabilities,” said Shinjiro Iwata, chief marketing officer, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. “We see a tremendous opportunity for all kinds of useful and entertaining digital data populating automotive hard drives that will make them an invaluable component of the modern car.”

The automotive segment for hard drives represents a growing opportunity, with industry analyst firm IDC predicting a 38 percent CAGR from 2005-2010 (Source: IDC report #201478, “Worldwide Hard Disk Drive 2006-2010 Forecast and Analysis: Record-Breaking Years Lie Ahead,” May 2006).

“Built Like a Tank”
The Endurastar J4K50 offers an unsurpassed operating temperature range of -30 to +85 degrees Celsius (-22 to +185 degrees Fahrenheit), while the N4K50 sports a slightly lower range at -16 to +70 degrees Celsius (3 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit). This means the Hitachi Endurastar drives can operate at below freezing and near boiling temperatures. In terms of the road, the J4K50 would be able to travel from Antarctica, where the winter mean temperature is -30 degrees Celsius, to the Sahara Desert, where the hottest soil temperature could reach 80 degrees Celsius. The Endurastar products employ a technology called Thermal Fly-height Control to keep the read/write head at an appropriate distance from the surface of the disk as needed, which can be affected by extreme temperature variances.

In addition, an industry-leading altitude range of -300 to 5,000 meters allows the J4K50 to successfully store and retrieve data from the lowest point on earth, near the Dead Sea (-394 m), to the highest paved road in the world in the Andes Mountains (4,818 m). The N4K50 can travel to a slightly lower altitude with an upper range of 3,000 meters.

To traverse hills, mountains and other bumpy terrain, Hitachi employs the following technologies to make the Endurastar products more rugged. The drives can survive as much as 3.0 G operating vibration and up to an 800 G drop shock:

  • Fluid Dynamic Bearing motors are tuned to help the Endurastar start up at low temperatures and achieve high temperature operating endurance
  • Developed specifically for the Endurastar, high-capacity breather filters inside the drive improve absorption capability 10 times over standard filters to protect from excessive humidity and organic pollutants
  • Shock sensors monitor environmental disturbances to maintain data integrity during on-the-go write operations
  • Large 8-megabyte segmented cache buffers sufficient data to bridge even the most severe driving experiences

Penetrating the Automotive Segment
Hitachi has been working with the automotive industry for nearly a decade to develop the right hard drive products for use in cars. Even beyond the wider temperature and altitude ranges, the requirements for an automotive-class hard drive are quite different than those of hard drives designed for personal computers or other stationary consumer electronic devices. For example, cars could be in operation for a number of years, so the hard drives that go into them must compare to the reasonable life-span of other automotive parts. In addition, automotive hard drives must have long-term supply for replacement and repair purposes, far beyond what’s expected in IT applications. The Endurastar product line is designed to meet these requirements.

Today, automotive hard drives are being implemented in predominantly three ways — as manufacturer options, dealer options and after-market installations. A number of high-end luxury car manufacturers are beginning to offer hard drives as factory built-in options. These and the dealer-installed option typically employ the higher-temperature range Endurastar, the J4K50. After-market installations tend to use the Endurastar N4K50, which offers a slightly lower temperature- and altitude-range.

Both the J4K50 and the N4K50 will be available in the first quarter of 2007.

Endurastar J4K50/N4K50 Technical Specifications

  • 50/40/30 GB (GB = 1 billion bytes, accessible capacity may be less)
  • 9.5 mm in height
  • 97 grams maximum weight
  • 4260 RPM
  • 86.1 billion bits per square inch maximum areal density
  • 2/2/2 recording heads
  • 1/1/1 platter
  • 250 G (2ms) operating shock
  • 800 G (1ms) non-operating shock
  • 388 Mb/s max. media transfer rate
  • 13 ms seek time
  • 7.04 ms average latency
  • 100 Ultra DMA mode-5
  • 8 MB data buffer
  • 1.8 w active idle
  • 0.8 w low power idle
  • 2.4 Bels typical idle acoustics
  • -30 to +85 degrees C operating temperature (J4K50)
  • -16 to +70 degrees C operating temperature (N4K50)
  • -300 to 5,000 meters operating altitude range (J4K50)
  • -300 to 3,000 meters operating altitude range (N4K50)

About Hitachi Global Storage Technologies
Hitachi Global Storage Technologies is a storage technology leader, founded in 2003 through the combination of Hitachi’s and IBM’s hard disk drive businesses. Hitachi GST enables users to fully engage in the digital lifestyle by providing high-value hard drives in formats suitable for the office, on the road and in the home.

With its legacy in hard drive invention, Hitachi GST will lead the industry in celebrating the hard drive’s golden anniversary in 2006. After five decades of innovation, the hard drive has had a profound effect on the computing and consumer electronics industries. That heritage lives on at Hitachi GST through products that define the standard for hard drive miniaturization, capacity, performance and reliability.

With more than 27,000 employees worldwide, Hitachi GST offers a comprehensive range of hard drive products for desktop computers, high-performance servers, notebooks and consumer devices.

About Hitachi, Ltd.
Hitachi, Ltd., (NYSE:HIT) (TOKYO:6501), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is a leading global electronics company with approximately 356,000 employees worldwide. Fiscal 2005 (ended March 31, 2006) consolidated sales totaled 9,464 billion yen ($80.9 billion). The company offers a wide range of systems, products and services in market sectors including information systems, electronic devices, power and industrial systems, consumer products, materials and financial services.