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Seagate Continues Bet on Hybrid HDDs With Flash Cache

By - Source: Seagate | B 37 comments

Seagate said that it has shipped one million Momentus XT solid state hybrid hard drives for laptop PCs since spring 2010.

The company indicated that it will be following this path in the foreseeable time as a strategy to leverage fast flash memory in mass storage media while maintaining the low cost level of hard drive technology.

Seagate said that its XT drives have been shipping to Alienware, Asus, Dell, Sony and Toshiba. The 7200 RPM models integrate 4 GB of flash memory and are available with capacities of up to 500 GB. They promise up to 50 percent faster boot ups than traditional 5400 RPM drives.

Seagate stated that high-performance SSDs are still not an alternative for hard drives in mainstream mass storage as "they cost as much as 10 times more than hard disk drives of the same capacity, with the price of a 250 GB SSD outstripping even the cost of many laptop PCs." According to the manufacturer, consumers are not willing to pay or simply cannot afford the higher price of the SSD. Of course, Seagate has a significant interest in the hard drive keeping its price/capacity advantage over flash as the hard drive and the technology enabling it is the company's bread and butter.

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  • 0 Hide
    jacobdrj , August 11, 2011 7:19 PM
    All true comments by Seagate. However, they have to include a 'teeny weeeny' bit more than 4GB of Solid State Flash memory for this to make sense.

    But in 24 GB worth of Flash Cache with a controller that is fast and that can distinguish data files from the OS and regularly used applications. The flash should act as nothing more than a CACHE, and during idle, all information on the flash needs to be 'backed up' on the mechanical HDD, so that even if the flash component fails, the HDD should still run.
  • 1 Hide
    pocketdrummer , August 11, 2011 7:34 PM
    At least one company realized that SSDs are far too expensive and have far too little storage capacity.

    We need ~500GB SSDs with a cost per gig that isn't leaps and bounds above HDDs. Considering I'm already filling 1 TB of my 2 TBs mostly with programs and games, even 500GB is too small.

    If they get the cost down, they'll sell more units. If they sell more units, they'll have more money to invest in R&D to make them larger and faster and increase MTBF.
  • 1 Hide
    spookyman , August 11, 2011 7:42 PM
    You see a lot Seagate drives used in servers.
  • 2 Hide
    warmon6 , August 11, 2011 7:49 PM
    jacobdrjAll true comments by Seagate. However, they have to include a 'teeny weeeny' bit more than 4GB of Solid State Flash memory for this to make sense.But in 24 GB worth of Flash Cache with a controller that is fast and that can distinguish data files from the OS and regularly used applications. The flash should act as nothing more than a CACHE, and during idle, all information on the flash needs to be 'backed up' on the mechanical HDD, so that even if the flash component fails, the HDD should still run.


    here the issue with what your saying.....

    1. your right that it should only be used as cache(which seagate been doing since it launched these drives). problem with what your saying is, anything on the cache "needs to be backed up".

    You need to read more about this drive. The drive reads what's most commonly used, (such as opening a certain app every day or most needed services for the OS to run) and stores the file on the cache from the hdd. Now it's still on the HDD. It never left, just copied into a faster place, so what is there to back up?

    2. as for having 24GB's of cache..... why such an odd number? i'd more prefer the traditional numbering scheme of 2,4,8,16,32,64, ect.... make sense to me as computers love multiples of two's.

    3. the reason why we wont see over 16GB hybrid drives yet is due to price.

    500GB hybrid drive: $100 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148591

    16 to 32GB ssd: $50 to $60
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820139428
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227510

    so even if you take out some of the cost of having the 4Gb's in there and put in 16 or 32GB of flash memory in these drives, your talking about a drive that can be in the neighborhood of $125 to possibly more than $150.

    Kinda defeats what the drive is targeting for.


    now i could see in the near future 8GB hybrid drives from seagate, but nothing bigger than that in the near future.
  • 4 Hide
    mrkdilkington , August 11, 2011 7:50 PM
    Can’t help but getting the feeling that these hybrids will just drag on the feet of SSD’s mainstream market dominance. Similar to how LED LCD’s are being milked instead of manufacturers switching to superior OLED’s, but obviously not as extreme as that case.
  • 1 Hide
    amdwilliam1985 , August 11, 2011 7:54 PM
    I think the posters above me are missing the point of SSD.
    I think SSD is not the replacement of HDD(at least not now), it is a complement of HDD in many cases.
    I'm only interest in about 100GB of SSD, that should be more than enough to keep all my current stuff, everything else can be save to my data drive(HDD) or an external drive.

    Have you guys ever used SSD? Just for reference, my new MBA boots up in 15 seconds and shuts down in 1 second :) 
  • -4 Hide
    drwho1 , August 11, 2011 8:00 PM
    Quote:
    Seagate said that its XT drives have been shipping to Alienware, Asus, Dell, Sony and Toshiba. The 7200 RPM models integrate 4 GB of flash memory and are available with capacities of up to 500 GB. They promise up to 50 percent faster boot ups than traditional 5400 RPM drives.


    Seriously?
    This must be a mistake given that nobody uses a 5400 RPM drive as a boot drive (unless we are talking notebooks here) which I don't think is the case.

    So what I like to know is what advantage if any would be between this drive a normal 7200 RPM drive?
  • -6 Hide
    pdfsmail , August 11, 2011 8:02 PM
    If I need portable computing, I will use a laptop with a standard drive...
    When it comes to using some power.. I will go to my desktop, and I will use several regular hard drives in RAID before buying one of these.. at least until they are more cost efficient. I like the Idea but it costs too much as most newer technologies do.
  • 4 Hide
    Pawessum16 , August 11, 2011 8:04 PM
    I'd be interested in one of these drives if the cache was upgraded to 8gb or 16gb. They've been out long enough now that I would hope to see an update soon in the product lineup. My laptop's 5400 rpm drive can really piss me off at times with its sluggishness, and a 7200 rpm drive doesn't seem like a worthwhile enough performance upgrade for the money, while SSD's are just too spendy for me.
  • 5 Hide
    jacobdrj , August 11, 2011 8:27 PM
    pocketdrummerAt least one company realized that SSDs are far too expensive and have far too little storage capacity.We need ~500GB SSDs with a cost per gig that isn't leaps and bounds above HDDs. Considering I'm already filling 1 TB of my 2 TBs mostly with programs and games, even 500GB is too small.If they get the cost down, they'll sell more units. If they sell more units, they'll have more money to invest in R&D to make them larger and faster and increase MTBF.


    You don't buy a SSD to 'hold stuff' you buy an SSD to RUN stuff. You buy it for the same reason you buy a Corvette. Speed. And unlike a Corvette on the freeway you get what you pay for, because you have no 'speed limit' for your computer, you can max out the speed (bandwidth) of the SSD to your heart's content, and increase your productivity too...


  • 2 Hide
    jacobdrj , August 11, 2011 8:29 PM
    drwho1Seriously?This must be a mistake given that nobody uses a 5400 RPM drive as a boot drive (unless we are talking notebooks here) which I don't think is the case.So what I like to know is what advantage if any would be between this drive a normal 7200 RPM drive?


    Yeah, it does seem like kind of a skimpy improvement on performance. I get, easily, 10 times the real world speed of my 2.5" 7200 RPM drives. Only about 4 times the real world speed on my 3.5" 7200 RPM drives, but still, an improvement.
  • 0 Hide
    jacobdrj , August 11, 2011 8:39 PM
    warmon6here the issue with what your saying.....1. your right that it should only be used as cache(which seagate been doing since it launched these drives). problem with what your saying is, anything on the cache "needs to be backed up".You need to read more about this drive. The drive reads what's most commonly used, (such as opening a certain app every day or most needed services for the OS to run) and stores the file on the cache from the hdd. Now it's still on the HDD. It never left, just copied into a faster place, so what is there to back up? 2. as for having 24GB's of cache..... why such an odd number? i'd more prefer the traditional numbering scheme of 2,4,8,16,32,64, ect.... make sense to me as computers love multiples of two's.3. the reason why we wont see over 16GB hybrid drives yet is due to price.500GB hybrid drive: $100 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 682214859116 to 32GB ssd: $50 to $60 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820139428http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820227510so even if you take out some of the cost of having the 4Gb's in there and put in 16 or 32GB of flash memory in these drives, your talking about a drive that can be in the neighborhood of $125 to possibly more than $150.Kinda defeats what the drive is targeting for. now i could see in the near future 8GB hybrid drives from seagate, but nothing bigger than that in the near future.

    Perhaps I used the wrong terminology. Cache may not be the right technical word. However, the drive should be smart enough to have the OS and regular applications on the Flash.

    24 GB isn't a random number. Between my installation of Windows 7 x64 pro, PhotoShop, Office, and a few other apps, I am using approx 19 GB. I figure 24 GB is a nice round number for some wiggle room for various other applications.

    The price of 24 GB of flash memory, without a controller, is about 30 dollars. Add a controller, that is another 15 to 20 dollars. A 1TB 2.5" drive can be had for about $100, USD. So you could have a 2 TB 5400 RPM drive, with 24 GB of flash memory and a controller to parse the data, for Approx $150. Since the idea is that most notebook computers (which would be the only practical application I can think of for a hybrid 2.5" hard drive, as you could just have Intel's SSD Core implementation or a manually managed SSD/HDD solution) do not have 2 drive bays, so there is no chance to have a storage drive AND an OS drive. You get a slightly more expensive HDD with the benefits of both an SSD and HDD.

    With only 4 GB of SSD cache, you don't have enough space for both your OS and Applications, and therefore, have some performance boost, but not enough to warrant the added cost.

    You also could 'neglect' to have the 24GB be backed up on the mechanical drive. That is fine. But when you are dealing with a 1 TB drive, what is a mere 24GB for peace of mind?
  • 3 Hide
    jacobdrj , August 11, 2011 8:48 PM
    pdfsmailIf I need portable computing, I will use a laptop with a standard drive...When it comes to using some power.. I will go to my desktop, and I will use several regular hard drives in RAID before buying one of these.. at least until they are more cost efficient. I like the Idea but it costs too much as most newer technologies do.

    The thing is, when I am on the go, that is when I need the speed and power savings the MOST. I need to be able to sit down and power up my notebook instantly, and close it just as fast. That saves battery life. I don't want to be tethered to a wall, and have to carry around a charger. Every little bit counts, and SSDs help a LOT with this.
    Besides, notebook HDDs, even 7200 RPM ones, are so painfully slow for general use. Switching to SSD is like night and day. If Seagate can give me even half that speed in a hybrid solution, for a reasonable price, I am game. So far, I am not convinced.
    If I need to store my music while I am on the go, I'll keep it on a SD card or a portable HDD. (Although, not really interested in a portable HDD when I don't want to even carry a power brick with me).
  • 1 Hide
    bennaye , August 11, 2011 9:24 PM
    2. as for having 24GB's of cache..... why such an odd number? i'd more prefer the traditional numbering scheme of 2,4,8,16,32,64, ect.... make sense to me as computers love multiples of two's.


    Bro, 24 is an even number XD.
    And I think you mean powers of 2. 24 is a multiple of 2 as well so your argument doesn't hold.

    Other than that, +1.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 11, 2011 9:32 PM
    I see measurable improvement on a Seagate XT whhen compare with a regular 7200 drive once it "learns" your pattern. The only heads-up is that it uses a bit more battery compare with regular 7200 hd, which only affects laptop installation.
  • 0 Hide
    rantoc , August 11, 2011 9:35 PM
    Best mix of storage system is system + installed programs on ssd and the bulk files on hdd, no one in their sane mind keeps for instance their movies library on a ssd.
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , August 11, 2011 9:42 PM
    drwho1 :
    Seriously?This must be a mistake given that nobody uses a 5400 RPM drive as a boot drive (unless we are talking notebooks here) which I don't think is the case.

    From THE FUCKING HEADLINE: Seagate said that it has shipped one million Momentus XT solid state hybrid hard drives for LAPTOP PCs since spring 2010.

    Try reading next time, douchington.
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , August 11, 2011 10:47 PM
    u can do the same thing with many modern motherboards. its call intel rapid storage technology. u can use any ssd as long as its 20Gb+. its an old technology but i personally like seagates approach. its much cheaper to put the 2 together instead of having to buy 2 seperate drives. id like to know how many read/write cycles the drive can handle if its using cheap memory. would suck to one day hit that wall and have to throw the whole drive away unless it still somehow can work like a traditional mechanical drive once its read/write cycles is used up.
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , August 12, 2011 12:05 AM
    You guys do realize, right, that in terms of a normal HDD, cache is measure in MB, not GB? 4GB is a giant improvement over the current 8-16MB cache we have now.
  • 0 Hide
    zybch , August 12, 2011 12:38 AM
    I bought one of these 500Gb Hybrid Drives for my notebook and after doing numerous benchmarks Vs my old spindle-only drive found that the hybrid one was actually slower!
    The 4Gb of cache did absolutely NOTHING.
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