80% of Hard Drives May Become Hybrid in Five Years - Seagate

Seagate Has Strong Plans for Hybrid Hard Drives

by Anton Shilov
07/21/2010 | 11:34 PM

A high-ranking executive of Seagate Technology said that he would not be surprised if the vast majority of hard disk drives (HDDs) in five years will have a special flash buffer to ensure high performance. The leading maker of hard drives also indicated that the demand towards the company's Momentus XT HDD is high.


"We feel really good about the [Momentus XT] product and I think as I have said on occasion looking out five years I would not be shocked if 80% of our portfolio is hybrid. [...] We believe that the hybrid drives [...], the drives where you basically utilize silicon technology in combination with HDD as probably by far in a way a better solution for the vast majority of client computing," said David Mosley, executive vice president of sales, marketing and product line management at Seagate, during quarterly conference call with financial analysts.

Seagate Momentus XT 2.5” hard drive feature 250GB, 320GB or 500GB capacities, 4GB of flash memory, 32MB DRAM cache as well as 7200rpm spindle speed. Seagate declares 4.17ms average latency, 11ms random read seek time, 13ms random write speed time and 300MB/s I/O data transfer rate. The Momentus XT drive features Adaptive Memory – a new technology from Seagate that learns and optimizes the drive’s performance to each user by moving frequently used information into the flash memory for faster access.

The manufacturer admits that solid-state drives (SSDs) still have a lot of benefits for enterprise personal computers. But considering their cost per gigabyte, clients are likely to prefer traditional hard drives with increased performance to SSDs.

"I think in enterprise clearly there is a play for SSDs which Seagate feels very good about its roadmap right now. But in the mid-range of enterprise and clearly in the client, the hybrid drive has basically all the benefits of an SSD," added Mr. Mosley.

The hybrid hard drives (HHDs) are not ideal. They still consume more energy than SSDs and their performance advantage over traditional HDDs is not always obvious. Moreover, since flash memory has limited amount of write cycles it remains to be seen how durable the cache will be and how efficient it will be over time.