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Western Digital on Thursday confirmed that it had started development of hybrid hard drive (HHD), which combines rotating magnetic media and NAND flash in a single storage solution. With the acquisition of Hitachi GST and its expertise with solid-state drives, it is likely that the HHD initiative at WD will speed up.

"We are continuing investments in strategic growth areas such as SSD, hybrid drives and the digital home," said John Coyne, chief executive officer of WD, during quarterly conference call with financial analysts.

Last year Western Digital said that it started to evaluate feasibility of hybrid drives as solid-state drives did not, in WD's opinion, provide the right value proposition for the client PC market. The destiny of the hybrid drive initiative at Western Digital has so far been unclear.

Apart from Samsung Electronics and Toshiba Corp., which are the world's largest makers of flash memory, neither of leading-edge makers of hard disk drives - Hitachi, Seagate and Western Digital - have unveiled broad lineups of solid-state drives for consumers. By contrast, various suppliers of branded memory modules have already launched large families of own-brand SSDs. Moreover, OCZ Technology, formerly known for memory modules, even managed to become a leading manufacturer of both client, server and enterprise solid-state storage solutions, posing a threat to hard disk drives.

So far, only Seagate Technology has released Momentus XT hybrid hard drive with 8GB of single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash memory and 750GB rotating media. Momentus XT uses Adaptive Memory technology to identify data usage patterns, and then move the most frequently retrieved information to solid state memory for faster access. Adaptive Memory effectively tailors hard drive performance to each user and the applications they use.

No details about forthcoming hybrid hard drive from Western Digital are available today.

Tags: Western Digital, WD, NAND, Flash, SSD, Seagate

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