While the CEO of Lite-On already stated in an interview that it’s unlikely that optical disk drives (ODDs) will get slimmer to fit in e.g. Ultrabooks, the research and development departments of ODD manufacturers have started to find ways to make them a bit thinner. Digitimes is reporting that ODD makers are now trying to get them as thin as 9 mm. Currently the thinnest drives are 9.5mm, while the first drives had a height of 12.7 mm. Bringing the height down a little bit should make them only 10% more expensive.
Bringing the height down to 7 mm, a height used by other parts in Ultrabooks such as HDDs and SSDs, would make the drives 3 to 4 times more expensive. The biggest technological challenge is, according to Digitimes, in the optical pickup head. While ODD in laptops will likely not totally disappear for a while, the trend is downwards. In 2012 about 80% of the sold notebooks had a optical disk drive, it’s expected that this will drop to 60% in 2014.