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Seagate Says Future is Hybrid HDD, Not Pure SSD

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 104 comments

Seagate's placing bets that people still want big, capacious HDDs, not just pure SSD speed.

When Steve Jobs debuted the new MacBook Air laptops last week, he said that the new products were what Apple felt were the future of the notebook. Likely he meant that laptops would be shipping with SSD rather than HDD storage.

We love SSDs and we think that they're quite at home inside mobile computing devices, but Seagate doesn't see the industry moving to full solid-state storage.

During a Seagate conference call, CEO Steve Luczo, said that he doesn't see SSDs as being the future. While that sounds funny coming from the leader of a storage company, remember that Seagate isn't heavily invested in SSD technology as some other companies who have feet deep in flash memory.

Luzco also said that he owns a previous-generation MacBook Air with an SSD, but he's frustrated at the lack of storage capacity inside the machine.

Check out the Seeking Alpha transcript for the full call.

Well look, I mean obviously Steve sits in a position that only Steve sits in, in terms of the offering that they provide to their customers and its obviously pretty [compelling]. I would say though that from what we know of the offering for example Apple, the percentage of their units that they sell with SSDs versus HDDs is a tiny fraction. I think it’s under 3%, certainly under 5%. Obviously this isn’t the first product that they’ve had. I have an Air book with an SSD unit that I’ve had for I guess a year and half now. And I think, there are certain things that are certainly very nice about it. And other things that are little bit frustrating and a little bit frustrating parts are the cost and the lack of capacity.

I spend a lot of time cleaning out files so I can make room for not a lot of content to be honest with you. I think are there some users that can operate net environment and be happy, I think the answer is yes but I think as Seagate introduced hybrid drive last quarter, you get basically the features and function of SSD at more like disc drive cost and capacity. And in fact with the additional layer of cashing we believe that, downstream from a product perspective there will be performance advantages to SSD whether or not that has to do with instant on or application load or what a load looks like year or two after you, you have your product versus that day you buy it.

I can tell you that my SSD drive takes about 25, 30 seconds to boot now versus the 12 seconds when I bought it. And that’s just an issue more related to OS than it is specifically to the technology but again with the hybrid there is things that you can do it alleviate that so your boot times are actually as compelling one and two, three and four years down the road.

So I think that’s where mainstream notebook computing is going if that’s what your question is no I don’t, do I think that Apple will be [successful] with that product absolutely, because Apple is successful with all their products. And so it’s a very compelling company and a compelling value proposition within their value chain. But again we just view it as more devices that are computing in eating data and if they’re low capacity on the edge that means they need a lot of storage pipe and down close to the edge and whether not that’s in a mash box or code in the cloud or in a local cloud. Those are all markets that we serve. So the more that people do creative things with computers and devices were all four and Steve certainly at the forefront of that.

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Top Comments
  • 16 Hide
    Darkerson , October 27, 2010 2:34 PM
    If thats what they think, then they need to step it up some. So far all we have from them is a hybrid drive with a paltry 4GB of flash. That and its in a 2.5" form factor. How about making some 3.5" drives with an actual decent amount of flash inside.
  • 13 Hide
    yellowblue , October 27, 2010 2:35 PM
    Of course they are biased since they are not a SSD company. As network bandwidth grows, hardisk will be on NAS / home servers while SSD will drive the gadgets / laptops and PCs.
Other Comments
  • 16 Hide
    Darkerson , October 27, 2010 2:34 PM
    If thats what they think, then they need to step it up some. So far all we have from them is a hybrid drive with a paltry 4GB of flash. That and its in a 2.5" form factor. How about making some 3.5" drives with an actual decent amount of flash inside.
  • 13 Hide
    yellowblue , October 27, 2010 2:35 PM
    Of course they are biased since they are not a SSD company. As network bandwidth grows, hardisk will be on NAS / home servers while SSD will drive the gadgets / laptops and PCs.
  • 3 Hide
    executor2 , October 27, 2010 2:41 PM
    If Intel lunches the new 600GB SSD as in the leaked charts posted in TH , I bet the future is SSD . By the way I own a 250 GB Western Digital and I am very happy about that " limited " space
  • 5 Hide
    proxy711 , October 27, 2010 2:44 PM
    I'm not sure i agree in time prices will fall and SSDs wont cost an arm and a leg.

    I think any huge computer geek will have a SSD for their OS and a hybrid or normal HDD for backup and random files. I don't think anyone thought HDDs were going to be phased out anytime soon.

    The normal consumer would be just fine with a 250-500gb SSD. I know my parents could get by with just a 60gb.

    I own seagate's hybrid drive, i have it in my envy 14 while its a good HDD I'm not blown away by its performance like i would be if i had a good SSD.
  • 6 Hide
    aevm , October 27, 2010 2:44 PM
    "as Seagate introduced hybrid drive last quarter, you get basically the features and function of SSD at more like disc drive cost and capacity."

    No, you don't. Not so far anyway. Maybe with a lot more Flash and with faster HDDs. Maybe in some scenarios involving random accesses to a small number of small files, so the cache actually helps.

    According to the benchmarks here,
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/seagate-momentus-xt-hybrid-hard-drive-ssd,2638-6.html
    Seagate's Momentus XT hybrid shows 84 or 85 MB/s average sequential read/write speeds. That's comparable to WD's 1.5TB Green hard drives, IIRC. Recent WD Black hard drives can reach over 100MB/s, for example. A Velociraptor can reach 130MB/s. Some Crucial SSDs offer 200MB/s for writing and 250MB for reading.

  • 4 Hide
    SneakySnake , October 27, 2010 2:47 PM
    Plus SSD drives are relatively brand new compared to standard HDD's. In a year or 2 we'll have 500 GB+ SSD's for a few hundred $$
  • 4 Hide
    cryptz , October 27, 2010 2:47 PM
    his comments seem shockingly short sighted for a big player. To say that ssds are bad because there isnt alot of storage is pretty narrow minded, especially when making a statement about the future. cost is comming down and capacity is going up, give it another year (if you have to)
  • 4 Hide
    werxen , October 27, 2010 2:52 PM
    Anymore else think its bullcrap the CEO of a harddrive company says he has to clean his hdd for more space? Just saying...
  • 6 Hide
    TeKEffect , October 27, 2010 2:56 PM
    Sounds like Nokia down playing android.... wake up!
  • 8 Hide
    wolfram23 , October 27, 2010 2:57 PM
    I'd like to see a review of hybrid HDDs
  • 9 Hide
    Marco925 , October 27, 2010 2:57 PM
    Is every CEO of a tech company named Steve nowadays?
  • -9 Hide
    masterasia , October 27, 2010 3:03 PM
    Seagate is crazy. They're only saying it because their hard drives suck.
  • 4 Hide
    MxM , October 27, 2010 3:05 PM
    He is right for the next, ehmm, 2-3 years. But even in 5 years or sooner, I think most of the drives will be SSD for home computers. Of course, HDD will have use in servers were massive storage is required, but not at home.
  • 5 Hide
    killerclick , October 27, 2010 3:06 PM
    I have Windows 7, Adobe CS4, 10 Steam games and all my work on less than 100GB... so a 160GB SSD would be quite enough for me. My HDD is the loudest component in my system by far and losing that constant whine of 7200RPM would totally be worth the money.
  • 4 Hide
    exodite , October 27, 2010 3:07 PM
    I, too, see going for a 'pure' SSD for the OS and applications and a big-ass conventional HDD for storage as the future.

    I really don't need a hybrid drive.
  • -1 Hide
    HenrikG , October 27, 2010 3:15 PM
    I have the Intel 160GB SSD and I couldn't be happier. I'll never go back to HDD except for maybe an external HDD for backing stuff up.

    I was thinking about upgrading the HDD in my PS3 to the Seagate 500GB w/ SSD but we'll see. I'm not going to do it until GT5 comes out and well, we all know when that will be right...
  • 8 Hide
    The_Trutherizer , October 27, 2010 3:17 PM
    I don't agree with him. The future will be solid state. It may not be the current technology employed for solid state manufacturing, but you can be sure as hell that the future of storage is solid state. He should say near future. Short-sighted proclamations like this will only get you quoted in hundreds of short-sighted-dumbasses-who-should-have-known-better-lol-tech articles 20 years from now.
  • 0 Hide
    atomyc , October 27, 2010 3:20 PM
    ssd is still in its infancy so low gb and high price is normal. just wait a few years and 500 gb ssd will be the norm.
  • 3 Hide
    godwhomismike , October 27, 2010 3:27 PM
    I installed an OCZ Agility 2 in a Lenovo laptop (2.2 GHz C2D, 4GB DDR3, and 512MB Nvidia GPU). The machine turned into a blazing speed demon. Once you use an SSD, you never want to use a traditional hard drive again. Oh, and the Apple SSD drive are not exactly running optimized. OSX has no Trim support, so you are giving up performance you'd normally see on a Windows 7 based machine. See Anandtech's performance comparison: http://www.anandtech.com/show/3991/apples-2010-macbook-air-11-13inch-reviewed/4

    All I have to say is, the SSD drives are worth their weight in gold. And from what I am starting to see, The SATA 6Gbps versions of the next generation of SSD drives are said to be getting around 500 MBps performance.
  • 3 Hide
    Scotteq , October 27, 2010 3:29 PM
    I could buy Mr Lukzo's statements in the context of a transition. I have an SSD (128GB), and use it for my OS and Games. But it is still cost~prohibitive to use an SSD for storage, and so I also have a 1TB WD Black for music, video, and other records. Both for cost's sake and also for convenience sake: if/when I build a new rig, I can simply move the storage drive.

    Unfortunately for Seagate, they have yet to deliver a product that provides the speed of an SSD with the capacity of spinning discs. I'd buy one if they did. But they don't. So I don't.
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