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Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Hybrid Hard Disk Drives Comes Closer to a Reality

Samsung and Microsoft will next month show off the ready-to-market version of a hybrid hard drive which can greatly reduce boot-up time of laptops and desktop PCs.

According to The Korea Times, the new product will be introduced along with Microsoft?s Windows ReadyDrive feature at the U.S. software maker?s annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference on May 24 in Seattle. ReadyDrive refers to software technology that supports the HHD.

The hybrid hard drive prototype uses 1 Gigabit OneNAND Flash as both the write buffer and boot buffer. In the hybrid write mode, the mechanical drive is spun down for the majority of the time, while data is written to the Flash write buffer. When the write buffer is filled, the rotating drive spins and the data from the write buffer is written to the hard drive.

The hybrid drive saves power by keeping the spindle motor in idle mode almost all the time, while the operating system writes to the OneNAND write buffer. Moreover, by using OneNAND Flash with hard disk drive technology, disk drive performance is not compromised relative to conventional disk drives. This is due, in large part, to OneNAND's ultra-fast read speeds, which can be fully leveraged during the flushing of the contents of OneNAND's write buffer to the rotating drive. In addition, since the Samsung hybrid disk drive operates at a lower temperature than traditional rotating media, it greatly reduces the possibility of shock and impact damage, improving the overall reliability of the disk subsystem.

While the cost of hybrid disk drives may slightly increase with the addition of OneNAND, any increase will be mitigated by several factors, including lower maintenance costs, 95 percent power savings when the disk is not spinning, faster boot time and substantially increased reliability.

Samsung and Microsoft have been co-developing the product and revealed the first prototype at the same conference last year. But this year?s model will be almost identical with what will be sold in the market later this year, though the basic concept of the product was unchanged.

The HHD has been developed at Samsung Electronics? semiconductor division. The company hopes the HHD will be the gap-filler between the traditional hard disk and next-generation flash-driven hard drives, which Samsung aims selling as early as next year.

The two firms aim to market the HHD- and ReadyDrive-equipped laptops from late this year in accordance with the launching of Windows Vista.

The HHD and ReadyDrive technologies are expected to perform a crucial role in Windows Vista by improving both performance and credibility. Windows Vista will leverage the feature to speed up the system and elongate battery life, while making it less vulnerable to external shock.

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