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Are 2.5-inch hard drives to appear in desktop computers?

All-in-one computers could initiate a boom in 2.5-inch HDDs over the next few years.

Beginning next year there could be an emerging market for 2.5-inch hard disc drives (HDD) in desktop computers as the demand for lower power consumption and smaller hardware that allows for easier storage grows.

This will be coupled with rising market for all-in-one PCs where the components and speakers are combined inside the monitor, much like Apple's iMac. It is these computers in particular that can benefit from a 2.5-inch HDD, compared to a 3.5-inch HDD as space is much more limited.

Shipment of the 2.5-inch variant is predicted to reach one million in 2013, according to IHS iSuppli Storage Space Market Brief created by information and analytics provider IHS.

This is particularly impressive given that shipment for the drives will essentially be zero for 2012.

Manufacturer and shipment of the drives will continue to rise steadily in subsequent years, reaching three million units in 2014 and seven million by 2016.

The number of all-in-one computers with 2.5-inch HDDs will still represent a relatively small proportion of the whole market, as there will still be 31 million units built with 3.5-inch HDDs in 2016. Analysts estimate smaller drives will generate an 18 per cent market share over the next four years.

Yet, the growth for 2.5-inch HDDs will be much faster than for its 3.5-inch counterparts.

At the moment, 2.5-inch HDDs are used primarily in mobile and notebook computers, external hard drives and in servers and storage systems. They have the benefit of a smaller form, being less of a power drain and greater endurance.

“With a maximum capacity of 1 terabyte, 2.5-inch HDDs are proving very attractive to PC makers for use in their next-generation all-in-one designs,” said Fang Zhang, analyst for storage systems at IHS.

“Multiple all-in-one PCs have the potential to adopt 2.5-inch HDDs, including the iMac from Apple Inc., TouchSmart from Hewlett-Packard, Series 7 from Samsung Electronics, IdeaCentre from Lenovo, Top Touchscreen from Asus Eee and all-in-one desktops from Vizio and Acer.”

The 2.5-inch HDDs do have two disadvantages: speed and cost. They generally run at 5,400 revolutions per minute (RPM) as opposed to the 7,200 RPM in 3.5-inch HDDs while selling at a higher price.

Yet, because the benefits outweigh the costs, the 2.5-inch drives will continue to take market share away from 3.5-inch HDDs over the next few years, as predicted by IHS.

“The 2.5-inch hard drive market may enjoy about four to five years of uninterrupted growth before low-priced, high-density solid state drives become more competitive,” Mr Zhang said. ADNFCR-1220-ID-801341710-ADNFCR