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Tuesday, March 05, 2013
Seagate Introduces New Hybrid Hard Drives Under The SSHD Concept

Seagate today upgraded to its 2.5-in. laptop hybrid drives and released its first 3.5-in. desktop hybrid drive. In addition, the company drops the 'Momentus XT' name, with the new hybrid hard disk-flash storage devices to be called 'Solid State Hybrid Drives' (SSHD)

Hybrid drives combine NAND flash with spinning disks along with firmware that determines where data resides on the disk based on application performance requirements.

Seagate is promoting hybrid drives as they can provide terabyte-plus capacities while also offer performance similar to solid-state drives (SSDs), with price points approaching traditional hard disk drives.

Seagate also announced it will no longer sell its hybrid drives under the Momentus XT name and will now use the brand SSHD (solid-state hybrid drives).

The new SSHD includes a new version of its standard laptop hybrid drive and a 7mm-high "Thin" SSHD, designed to fit in ultrathin notebooks. Seagate is working with Intel to get their hybrid drives into ultrabooks.

The company's 2.5-inch line is now using 5400 rpm spinning disk, versus the 7200 rpm spindles of its previous generation drives. Despite the slower spindle speeds, Seqagate claims that the new Laptop and Laptop Thin SSHDs boast performance that's as much as 40% faster than previous generations, and can add as much as 30% to total system performance.

This is due to a new NAND flash subsystem deployed, which uses upgraded write caching algorithms that automatically write all high-priority data directly to flash. In past generations, all data was initially written to spinning disk and then migrated to flash as performance metrics required.

The SSHD's firmware monitors every block of data and evaluates it as to whether it's boot information or data frequently used by the operating system or an application. At the same time, the firmware evaluates the data based on what its impact is on system performance if it's stored on hard disks versus the SSD portion of the drive.

The new Seagate Laptop and Laptop Thin SSHDs come with 8GB of NAND flash. The drives come in 500GB and 1TB capacities.

Seagate's first desktop hybrid drives will come in 1TB and 2TB capacities and will use a 7200rpm spindle speed. The new Desktop SSHD line will use Seagate's Adaptive Memory software to identify and store only the most critical data a system needs to go fast.

All of the drives use a standard SATA interface and 8GB of MLC NAND. Although this is a very small amount of NAND, Seagate hinted at future, higher performance versions shipping with somewhere around 32GB of NAND.

Seagate did not disclose pricing details of teh new SSHDs. However, they are expected to be $15 ~ $20 more expensive than standard hard drives of similar capacity.

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