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Seagate Technology said Tuesday that it had shipped its one millionth hybrid hard drive for laptop PCs after launching the product – Momentus XT – in spring 2010. The amount of hybrid drives that have been shipped in the most recent 14 months by Seagate is not very high, but the manufacturer stresses that the popularity of such products is increasing.

The Momentus XT solid state hybrid drive features 500GB capacity, 4GB of onboard flash memory as well as 7200rpm spindle speed. Seagate’s Adaptive Memory technology optimizes performance by moving frequently used information into the 4GB of onboard flash cache for faster bootup and application access. Major computer makers including Alienware, Asustek Computer, Dell, Sony and Toshiba now offer laptops powered by the 2.5" hybrid hard drives.

The problem with today’s high-performance SSDs for mobile computing is that they cost as much as 10 times more than hard disk drives of the same capacity, with the price of a 250GB SSD outstripping even the cost of many laptop PCs. Most consumers and system builders are unwilling or unable to pay the high price for the greater speed of SSDs. The Momentus XT drive are supposed to deliver speeds that are higher compared to  that of traditional HDDs and which are closer to that of SSD. Unfortunately, modern operating systems cannot take advantage of additional NAND flash cache, which is why actual performance of Momentus XT is not as high as it could be.

As a consequence, the popularity of Seagate's hybrid drives is not truly high: one million drives in fourteen months means that Seagate shipped around 71.5 thousand of hybrid hard drives per month, which is lower than the number of more expensive solid-state drives shipped by major and second-tier manufacturers. However, both Seagate and market analysts believe that HHDs do have bright future.

“Seagate's shipment of its one millionth Momentus XT drive is just the beginning of a bright future for solid state hybrid drives. Fast, capacious, and economical hybrid HDD and NAND flash storage solutions like the Momentus XT drive will be found in roughly 25% of all new PCs shipped in 2015," said John Rydning, research director at IDC.

Tags: Seagate, Momentus, HDD, HHD, NAND, Flash, SSD

Discussion

Comments currently: 4
Discussion started: 08/09/11 11:38:01 AM
Latest comment: 08/11/11 12:45:32 PM
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1. 
El cheapo, stop creating these peaces of junk and start adding 1-2 GB RAM buffer; much faster + more reliable. Do that, and I won't even consider other brands.

Nand junk. What happens after the modules start to fail; the whole hard drive fails??? Nand is garbage. 2 GB of ram for 20$, charge me an additional 20$ for 2GB ram buffer; no problem there.
Companies lack creativity.
0 0 [Posted by: ericore  | Date: 08/09/11 11:38:01 AM]
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So there is a fundamental difference between NAND and DRAM, i.e. non volatile vs volatile. Additionally there is an extreme amount of overhead involving HD accesses in both hardware as well as the operating system and so the latency difference(which is probably what you are wanting with DRAM) is fairly negligible between using DRAM vs NAND flash as overall it will probably be on the order of microseconds from fileIO request to data being delivered.

Additionally, adding DRAM exclusively instead of NAND flash could cost you write performance because if you care about keeping your data, you will need to have a write through cache and so your writes will be limited by your hard drive speeds. With NAND flash you could do a write back caching policy and actually write to the NAND flash only if your files are small and get the full bandwidth afforded to you by NAND flash as opposed to being limited by the ~100MB/s of a physical disk.
0 1 [Posted by: SomethingBigCheese  | Date: 08/09/11 12:38:52 PM]
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Adding more RAM buffer for hd will not speed up boot up time because every time you shut down, the RAM will not retain any data. Everything will have to be loaded from the hard drive again next time.
For hybrid hd, files frequently accessed for boot up can be stored into the SSD portion. Thus, faster boot time then regular hd and hd with lots of RAM.

Having RAM buffer will still be slow initially after boot up because you will still need to have data loaded from hard drive to the RAM. It will only get fast after data is loaded into the RAM.

On the other hand, a hybrid drive would store the files you frequently access. So you save the initial loading time from hard drive.
0 1 [Posted by: gjcjan  | Date: 08/09/11 12:53:30 PM]
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2. 
"Unfortunately, modern operating systems cannot take advantage of additional NAND flash cache"

Why would that be? The Momentus XT actually hides the cache from the OS, so it works regardeless of OS, drivers etc. That's part of the beauty of the solution. That it's not as fast as modern full SSDs has to do with the fact that it only uses a single NAND chip, rather than an entire array in parallel.
0 0 [Posted by: sanity  | Date: 08/11/11 12:45:32 PM]
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