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Samsung SpinPoint MH80 Hybrid Hard Drive

Should You Care About Hybrid Hard Drives?
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We received a HM16HJI from Samsung, which offers a 160 GB capacity on two platters, and a 256 MB NV cache for Windows Vista's ReadyDrive - Samsung calls the feature "FlashON". The drive looks like any other Samsung hard drive, it works like any other hard drive, and at 0.22 lb (100 g) it even has the same weight. It has a 5,400 RPM spindle speed and an 8 MB cache memory (the Flash memory is not supposed to replace the faster on-board cache). As with other Samsung hard drives, the H-HDD comes with a three-year warranty.

Samsung utilizes a SATA/150 interface, while several other 2.5" hard drive manufacturers went to 300 MB/s SATA. We believe that the 150 MB/s bandwidth is the better choice, as the faster connection speed doesn't translate into better overall performance, yet consumes measurably more power. In the context of prolonging battery runtimes of notebooks it makes sense to save energy wherever possible.

Samsung lists the drive's power requirements on its website: the maximum spin-up power of 4.5 W is relatively uninteresting, but the comparison in power use between read/write from/to the media and to the NV cache is interesting. Off the medium, Samsung states a power requirement of 2.0 W, while NV cache reads require 0.85 W and writes only 0.75 W. Note that these low NV cache power requirements only come into effect if the drive can operate off the NV cache with the spindle motor stopped. If data from the physical medium is requested, or if a write process would exceed the NV cache's 32 MB write buffer, the spindle will spin up again.

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