HP has begun shipping its 300GB small-form factor drives to worldwide resellers this week, doubling the capacity of its previous 2.5 inch serial-attached SCSI (SAS) hard disk drives.

The company said the new drives, which it produced with Seagate, use 75 percent less power and 70 percent less space than its high-end 3.5inch, 15,000rpm drives.

The new 300GB drives spin at 10,000rpm and are targeted at data centre applications. Currently, HP's highest capacity 3.5 inch enterprise-class drive holds 450GB of data.

Mark Ross, associate director of computer operations with technology services for Indiana University's Kelly School of Businesses, said he's excited about using the new 300GB drives in his eight HP Proliant DL380 G5 servers and his single MSA 2000 modular storage array.

"I'm thrilled to death to see smaller form factor drives as fast as the previous enterprise-class SCSI drives we were using," he said. "They use less power and put out less heat. And you can fit more in the same space. That's cool."

Ross, who currently uses 146GB SAS drives, said he's particularly looking forward to installing the smaller drives in his storage array. The array was using 12 3.5 inch serial ATA drives, but can now handle up to 24, 2.5 inch SAS drives in a 2U (3.5 inch) rack.

"Suddenly, we can get 6TB in a single shelf. And the drives are fast," he said.

Jimmy Daley, HP's product marketing manager in the Industry Standard Servers group, said as SAS interface speeds increase next year to 6Gbits/s and bring more volume pricing, he expected a transition from Fibre Channel drives at the high-end.

"Mid-range and high-end storage vendors are all putting together plans to adopt small-form factor drives. But, we certainly have to get to 6Gbits/s SAS first," he said.

HP has been pushing its smaller drives to resellers. Currently, 2.5 inch drives make up 80 percent of its shipments to enterprise-class server vendors, Dailey said, adding that adoption of the drives is about to take off in external storage systems that would be used in storage area networks and network-attached storage.

"We do see adoption of these in our MSA [mid-range disk arrays] next year," he said.