Ultralow-power HDD preamps boost performance in sub-2.5 inch drives

Lexington, Mass.&#8212STMicroelectronics' L6420 and L6440 hard-disk drive (HDD) preamplifiers for sub-2.5 inch drives, in the company's Near Zero Power (NZP) series, tout significantly higher bandwidth and best-in-class power efficiency.

Suited to single- and dual-platter drives and supporting both longitudinal and perpendicular recording, the L6420 (2-channel BiCMOS-silicon-germanium chip) and the L6440 (4-channel service) supports a maximum data rate of up to 600 Mbps at significantly lower power consumption as compared to the company's first-generation Ultra Low Power family. Total write-mode power consumption for the L6440&#8212the first device in the NZP family&#8212is just 170 mW at 450-Mbits/sec, thus enabling manufacturers to offer longer battery lifetime between charges, or more compact products with the same battery life using a smaller battery. ST says the L6440 is three times faster than existing preamplifiers designed for portable applications. The speed increase allows higher data transfer rates to and from storage devices, enabling the use of 1.8-inch drives in the emerging market for ultraslim laptop PCs; most laptops now use 2.5-inch drives, according to the company.

The chip utilizes Fast Sleep Mode circuitry to further cut overall power requirements&#8212the preamp remains in sleep mode (250 microwatts) even while the end-product operates. The chip's sleep-to-read recovery time is 500 ns, and thus the chip can perform a short read operation before returning to its quiescent state. The chip's Deep Sleep Mode reduces power consumption even further, either under control or automatically after a 350 microsecond timeout, at the expense of a slightly longer (2.5 microseconds) recovery-to-read.

Click here for the L6420's datasheet, and here for the L6440's.
Sample devices are priced at $5, and an evaluation board will be available by the end of the month, with volume production planned for Q1 2007. The preamps will be shipped as bumped bare dice.

STMicroelectronics , 1-781-861-2650,

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