Hybrid HDDs

Seagate Upgrades Hybrids, Phases Out 7,200RPM HDDs

Seagate's New SSHD FamilySeagate made two important statements on two successive days – March 4 and 5: First, the company disclosed plans to phase out its 7,200 RPM 2.5″ notebook HDDs, and second, Seagate announced a new line of Momentus XT hybrid hard drives, which the company calls: “Solid State Hybrid Drives” or “SSHDs.”

Are these two announcements related?  Well, The SSD Guy thinks they are!

Higher-RPM HDDs help to accelerate disk accesses by a small percentage while a hybrid can boost speeds significantly.  According to Seagate, Continue reading

Apple’s Fusion Drive – An SSD Cache for the Macintosh

Apple's Chart of Fusion Drive Performance for the new Mac MiniOn October 23 along with the highly-anticipated announcement of the iPad 4, Apple rolled out new Macintosh computers that for the first time in an Apple product pairs an SSD with a conventional HDD to get the best combination of capacity, speed, and price.  The company calls this its Fusion Drive, not to be confused with Fusion-io’s highly-regarded products.

The SSD Guy did not attend the announcement, and there is little on the Apple website.  I contacted Apple, and they don’t have very much detail to share at this time.  This is important to note, since Continue reading

Toshiba Announces its Hybrid Drive

Toshiba's New Hybrid DriveNow that we have seen announcements of hybrid drives from Western Digital and Seagate, Toshiba arrives with a formal announcement of the product that was on display at last month’s Flash Memory Summit.  Two 2.5″ Toshiba hybrid drives are starting to sample at 750GB and 1TB capacities.  Both have 8GB NAND caches, 6Gb/s SATA 3 interfaces, and 5,400RPM spindle speeds.  They are both built using 32nm SLC NAND, Toshiba’s “generation before last” technology, preceding the 24nm and 19nm nodes shipping in high volume today.

More importantly, both are 9.5mm in height, a thickness that renders them difficult to incorporate into the 18mm maximum thickness of the smaller Ultrabooks – a notebook form factor that Intel is heavily promoting.

How is this whole market Continue reading

Seagate Updates Hybrid Drive

Intel/Seagate Demo of RST System Using a Hybrid HDDAt the Intel Developer Forum Intel showed Seagate‘s updated Momentus XT Hybrid Solid State Drive in operation.  The new drive is only 7mm thick, significantly thinner than the 9.5mm Momentus XT that the company has been shipping for the past 2 years.

This is significant because the 13mm target thickness of the Ultrabook platform is extremely difficult to achieve using a 9.5mm drive, yet the performance specification of the Ultrabook requires the use of NAND flash, either in the form of a full-blown SSD, an HDD with an additional cache SSD, or a hybrid drive.  Of the three choices, Continue reading

WD Introduces Hybrid HDD

Western Digital's new hybrid HDD is only 5mm thickWestern Digital Corporation on Monday announced that it is sampling its long-awaited hybrid HDD.  WD claims that the 500GB 2.5″ device is the thinnest in the industry at 5mm. So far Seagate has been alone in this field with its Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid Drive.  There are some significant differences between the two drives:

  • Seagate uses SLC flash while WD uses MLC.  There is more than a 10:1 price premium for SLC flash
  • Seagate’s hybrid ships in 750GB and 500GB capacities while WD’s is 500GB
  • Seagate’s device is 9.5mm thick, while WD’s is 5mm

The last point is extremely Continue reading

PC Caching Software is Not All the Same

NVELO Dataplex Benchmarks Consistently Outperform Intel iSRTThe folks at NVELO recently provided The SSD Guy with some benchmark data comparing their Dataplex software’s performance against the Intel iSRT caching software that is becoming prevalent among Ultrabooks.

For those unaware of these two technologies, they are both caching software that automatically maintains “Hot” data within a low-capacity SSD while leaving “Cold” data on the system HDD. The end result is that the PC performs as if it boasts a large SSD when, in truth, it uses Continue reading

Toshiba Reveals Hybrid HDD Research

Hybrid HDD - An HDD with a NAND Flash CacheNikkei Electronics published an article on May 22 detailing a May 17 briefing by Toshiba president Norio Sasaki. Mr. Sasaki told of the company’s plans to introduce a hybrid HDD (HHDD) in September of this year that is aimed at the Ultrabook market. The article notes that Toshiba is the only company that produces both NAND flash and HDDs, now that Samsung sold its HDD business to Seagate.

The article also says that Toshiba: “aims to become one of the top three companies in the HDD market in terms of market share.” The SSD Guy is forced to wonder at this comment, since there are only three HDD manufacturers in existence today: Toshiba, Western Digital, and Seagate.

The Seagate Momentus XT, the only Continue reading

Western Digital CEO: Hybrid Drives “Strategic”

Hybrid HDD - An HDD with a NAND Flash CacheDuring Western Digital’s April 26 earnings call (as transcribed by Seeking Alpha) CEO John Coyne disclosed that Western Digital has ongoing development efforts in hybrid HDDs: “In addition, we are continuing investments in strategic growth areas such as SSD, hybrid drives and the digital home.”

It’s encouraging to see a second entrant into this market.

After a false start that was synchronized with the ill-fated launch of Microsoft’s Vista operating system, hybrid HDDs have been a technology that is rarely ever mentioned.  So far the hybrid HDD has been the sole domain of Seagate Technology with Continue reading

OCZ: Three Solid State Storage Products in Three Weeks

OCZ's PCIe Z-DriveSSD maker OCZ has been on something of a tear recently, introducing three new solid state storage products in three weeks:

  • Two weeks ago the company introduced the Z-Drive R4 CloudServ PCIe SSD, designed for the data center, in single-card capacities ranging from 300GB-16TB.  This product can transfer data at multiple gigabytes per second rates to deliver over a million IOPS.
  • Last week saw the introduction of the OCZ-SANRAD VXL enterprise storage accelerator, after OCZ’s January acquisition of SANRAD.  This product is flash cache acceleration software for VMware ESX and Citrix Xen virtualized environments that allows Continue reading

New White Paper: Enterprise Reliability, Solid State Speed

Kaminario's K2 SystemThe SSD Guy has just posted a new white paper to the Objective Analysis home page.  It’s about Kaminario‘s approach to solid state storage.

Yes, this is a commissioned white paper, but that doesn’t preclude my taking the same unbiased approach my clients have come to expect.  Kaminario has re-thought how SSDs should be used in storage, and that deserves some attention.

It’s only six pages, but even so I will condense the content for this post:  Flash is tricky Continue reading