Toshiba Launching Hybrid HDD by September

During a briefing session in Tokyo last week, Toshiba Corp president and CEO Norio Sasaki laid out the company's plans for its semiconductor/storage business. The plans include launching its "Hybrid HDD" in September which will be targeted at the Ultrabook sector.

Tech-On reports that Toshiba is aiming to achieve sales of ¥850 billion (approx US $10.7 billion) with its HDD and SSD business in fiscal 2015. To reach this goal, Sasaki said the company will increase the speed of integrating the development unit of NAND flash chips with the development unit for its HDD arm. Toshiba also plans to use "cutting-edge technologies" so that its SSDs stand out in the growing SDD market.

As for the Hybrid HDD, Sasaki didn't add much in details save for the September release. Naturally it will contain both NAND flash and hard disk platters, enabling a near-instant bootup process of an SSD along with the high-capacity storage characteristics of an HDD. The slim, light-weight form factor -- not to mention a low power consumption -- makes it ideal for Ultrabooks.

Toshiba is also looking to become one of the top three companies in the HDD market in terms of market share. Currently it's the only company that has both NAND flash chips and HDDs in the storage sector. Its market coverage of the HDD market also recently jumped from 70 percent to 100 percent thanks to its recent deal with Western Digital.

Last week WD said that it finally completed its divestiture of specific 3.5-inch hard drive assets -- manufacturing equipment and related IP -- to Toshiba, as required by regulatory agencies that conditionally approved the company's completed acquisition of Viviti Technologies Ltd. (formerly Hitachi Global Storage Technologies).

"The assets will enable Toshiba to manufacture and sell 3.5-inch hard drives for the desktop and consumer electronics markets and will enhance its ability to manufacture and sell 3.5-inch hard drives for near-line (business critical) applications," WD said.

So far Seagate is the only competitor with a hybrid drive on the market: the Momentus XT with 8 GB of SLC NAND flash memory and 750 GB of platter-based storage. The hybrid uses Adaptive Memory to identify usage patterns and move the most frequently retrieved information to the NAND flash. This means the drive overall is tailored to each specific user.

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  • zaznet
    The more of these we see included in built systems the cheaper SSD and other hybrid drives will be. Looking forward to upgrading to SSD in the next year as price for capacity finally make it very inviting.
  • velocityg4
    I think these are far too late to market. The 64GB to 128GB SSD's are in the price range of standard laptop hard drives. For the vast majority of computer buyers a 64GB SSD is far more capacity than they have any use for. For the vast majority of people the few pictures, songs and documents they keep on their computer would fit on a DVD. While the OS, OS updates, and apps take 30 to 40 GB. Then a small group of people don't need any more than a 128GB SSD for their decently sized music and/or photo library.

    Then there is the very small enthusiast and hobbyist minority that needs huge file capacities. These are those with huge music libraries (in lossless of course), photo libraries (in RAW format and multiple revisions), lots full length movies in HD, tons of games and other software or files.

    In the business market. Most individual employee computers are still fine with the 64GB SSD. Larger servers are needed to hold all the data from all employee's but the individual average office worker does not need large capacities. In business markets only a small subset need large capacities these are the designers, engineers, scientists, &c. Whom usually will need a RAID with multiple terabytes of storage.

    Really manufacturers of desktop and laptop computers need to make the SSD standard. I just looked at the prices and they have dropped again. The average $400 to $500 desktop or laptop computer's hard drive is more expensive than a 60 to 64GB SSD ($60 to $75). The average hard drive found in a $500+ laptop or desktop cost as much or more than a 120 to 128GB SSD ($95+).
  • kurazarrh
    velocityg4, I haven't found that 60/64 or even 120/128GB SSDs are large enough even for everyday use, so packing them in every computer because they're affordable probably isn't the answer. Like you said, a Windows 7 Home Premium installation, after updates, is creeping upward of 30+GB these days. Add in antivirus, browsers, MS Office (or the open-source version of your choice), and other applications, and you're already at 50GB or more. That makes it hard to fit even a modest music/video collection on a 64GB drive and still leave 10% free space so the drive can function.

    Even the 128GB drive I recently bought for my gaming laptop would have been quickly overwhelmed if I didn't throw a 500GB drive in the second hard drive bay - and I don't even keep my music and videos on that computer, it's just that game installations take up as much room (or more) as Windows does.

    Sure, $1/GB is definitely a good deal compared with just a year ago, but to put that in perspective, HDDs were about $1/GB when I built my first PC back in 2001, when Windows 2k/XP only took up a few GBs. The price per GB just isn't there to make them ubiquitous in the mainstream. Yet.

    I can't disagree that they might be a little late to the market, but I wouldn't disparage them for that, considering the engineering that has to go into the hardware and firmware in order for the drives to reliably track usage and allocate the right data to the solid state chips. The design, prefab, testing, and mass-production timeline isn't a short one. This solution really is the best of both worlds (even if I personally much prefer to have two separate drives, one SSD, one HDD). I'd be willing to bet these will find a decent place in the market.