back to article Hybrid hard drives: what's not to like?

Flash-based SSD drives may be bloody fast, but they're also bloody expensive. For some road warriors, price is immaterial, but for most mortals — or for their employers — price is everything. This is where hybrid hard drives come into their own, delivering better performance than traditional hard drives, but for only a small …


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  1. John Robson Silver badge

    10+GB, as a separately addressable partition

    Then I'll be interested.

  2. Bill Cumming
    Thumb Up

    quick question

    Does the laptop see it as 2 separate drives?

    Or does the interface board decide what goes on the Flash?

  3. Matt 13

    4gb is enough?

    what system is he booting from a 4gb partition?? in my world 4gb is atleast half of enough!!

    My v-lite-ed win7 install is around 5gb add antivirus, important apps and office and my ready to roll footprint is about 9gb, but that still leaves 20gb of ssd to play with i suppose... and another 16gb on a memorystick duo

    1. Goat Jam

      Oh, I see your problem.

      "My v-lite-ed win7 install"

      You are running Windows.

      A real OS doesn't expect/force the entire system and app suite to sit on an archaically named "C Drive"

      Even the most modern linux distro could easily fit on 4GB, with /home on a bigger, slower disk.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Paris Hilton

        I smell fanboi

        Neither does Windows if you know what you are doing with it and don't have an irrational hatred of that which you don't understand.

        Paris, I'm irrationally attracted to the plastic dimwit...

  4. Anonymous Coward

    how difficult is it

    to carry a few hcsd cards for storage? I use an ssd in a desktop for booting and a cheap sata2 for data - ssds aren't finished yet. they are expensive and have odd hangups like random writes taking ages. that's the real reason for avoiding writing to them, not the price of storage

  5. Unprofessional Type


    The fine linked article answers those questions.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The hard drive has become a complete commodity without much of a margin, the best way to increase the margin is with new products that have not reached the economy of scale yet.

  7. Random Coolzip


    The flash is used to hold the most-frequently-accessed files. It doesn't appear to be a cache, as the files aren't written through to the disk, they just get stored in the flash area. The manufacturer claims it's "adaptive", so presumably files migrate back and forth between disk and flash, based on some usage metric.

  8. Anton Ivanov

    That is why verbatim offers expresscard flash drives

    You still retain your mobility and you can fit it into most reasonable notebooks.

    It is a pity nobody does a flash replacement for notebook CDROMs. HP used to offer 80G disks that slotted instead of their DVDs but the price was... to put it mildly.. extortionate. There is a market for it - especially with today flash prices.

  9. Jeff 11

    'Fast booting'

    Every heard of suspend and resume? (Although I hasten to add only Macs seem to do it reliably in my experience, X11 gobbles every piece of free memory after 2-3 days and Windows barely lasts a couple of resumes)

    1. Quxy

      X11 gobbles free memory?

      Wow, I think that Xorg memory leak problem was fixed a donkey's age ago. I can't recall the last time I rebooted one of my Linux (Fedora, Ubuntu) notebooks for anything but a kernel update.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      I have and...

      Not keen on suspend but with Win 7 it seems to be really rather good and reliable so far.

      I'll revise my opinion and revile it again when or if it fks up but so far (and it's almost 10 months now).......

  10. b166er
    Thumb Down

    I'll tell you what's not to like

    The fact that Seagate have seen fit to try and rip us of with a pathetically small amount of RAM, thinking they can rinse us for more money with the 2nd gen 8GB version.

    You'd have to be rocking back and forward and foaming at the mouth to buy one!

  11. Reg Sim
    Thumb Down

    4Gb is just to little.

    Awsome concept, might be alright for a linux box, but screwed for windows.

    XP currently takes up an arm and a legg of space by the time you install all the damm patches, and whilst I have cut XP down before to get it on a 4GB drive with office, it was quite an effort.

    Now I know you are suggesting you keep apps such as office on the normal HDD parts, but still, Windows 7 is not small and in a couple of years with updates, bolt-ons and patches with gona be fighting for space.

    If they kicked off with 8Gb's over 4Gb's I would say they have got it about right and covered almost all low end needs and allowed one or two primary applications to share the speed bump.

    Anyway, screw this for a laptop, I want this option in a 3.5" desktop drive.

    1. Steven Jones


      Whilst I'd agree an 8GB option would be good for some, it should be noted that it's not necessary for the 4GB to cache the entire OS image. Firstly there are likely to be very many files which are referenced only very infrequently. If you can cache 90% then that might be fine. Secondly, the greatest benefit of an SSD if so random access. Large files are often adequately services from an HDD as they are read sequentially and, hence, efficiently. Just being able to cache the file system directory structures will have a huge benefit.

  12. Arctic fox

    Horses and camels

    The latter being the former designed by a committee, rather like this hybrid. It seems to be a rather unhappy lashup that is aimed at what is in all probability tempory window of opportunity in the storage market. As flash prices come down and speeds go up even further (in the course of the next two to three years) these will become a curiousity. I do not see them doing very much business.

  13. Robert Heffernan

    Files? Huh

    Somehow I seriously doubt the claim that the HDD knows to store the most frequently used files on the flash. They are a block-based storage device storing addressable chunks of 512 bytes or 4096 bytes (on newer drives) in a single sector, and that is all.

    So unless someone wrote firmware for the drive to understand the structure of FAT, NTFS, EXTx, ZFS, etc the drive wouldn't even know the concept of a File.

    What I can see going on is the drive keeping an eye on how often a particular sector is read, and the most read sectors are mirrored in flash. You could almost call it a non-volatile cache.

    *Troll, cos where are the muppet icons when you need them!

    1. Cliff

      Block level

      Excellent point. Would 'adaptive' mapping just mean the most popular blocks go on the flash, the less popular ones on magnetic? If so, that would probably mean 4GB is //plenty// for Windows as not all of those services and DLL's are touched every single boot time, so most of the bloaty crap goes on magnetic but the kernel, maybe winword, etc end up on the flash part?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Jeff 11 - Fast booting

    My homebrew Intel Quad Core PC, HP Tablet PC (2006) and Dell Laptop (2003) all 'Fast Boot' (or use hybrid sleep mode) in Windows 7. I find that I rarely need to do a full reboot; more often because a Windows update requires it.

    On the other hand, my old homebrew Intel P4 PC, which my wife and kids use, refuses to recover from sleep mode reliably - also Windows 7 - go figure!

    Paris because I've got no morals and would enjoy recovering from hybrid sleep with her (Protected mode - of course)

  15. Mark Rendle


    Ill-informed comments from people who haven't actually read anything about the product in question? Help! I'm in the Register comments section again.

    FWIW, I've got one, and it's not as fast as my Samsung PBJ22, but it's still bloody quick and four times more space for less than a third of the price.

  16. Adz


    Think a few people need to read a review of one of these drives:

    I may be getting one to replace my SSD, Its one of the old OCZ apex's and isn't that fast to be honest.

  17. takuhii
    Thumb Down

    NO! NO!! NO!!!

    This whole arguements about SSD Being better than HDD is really starting to drag on.

    "for example, booted and loaded Adobe's CS5 in 28 seconds while a 2.6GHz MacBook Pro fitted with a hard drive took almost 70 seconds"

    BULL!! I have a Samsung Spinpoint F3 SATAII 7200RPM 1TB HDD with 32MB of Cache. Windows 7 Professional loads in approx 30 seconds, Photoshop CS5 loads in approximately the same time, 30 seconds.

    The drive cost me £60. Why should I pay double, in some cases 4x, for a drive that will save me approximately 2 seconds, and is a quarter of the size!!

    Personally I'm waiting until the SSD are truly quick (i.e. instant on) and cheaper than HDDs. I contemplated buying a small SSD as a boot drive, but after the amazing performance I have got out of my Spinpoint, I won't be purchasing an SSD in the immediate future.

  18. Ray Quattromini

    The Hybrid Drive Arrives

    At a price point that makes them very attractive will this technology move to 3.5" & 2.5" enterprise SATA/SAS drives and will this increase sales of 2.5" based storage arrays. Hopefully this time around they will succeed. Will the data on flash and magnetic disk work with disk defragmentation tools?

  19. Ray Quattromini

    The Hybrid Drive Arrives

    At a price point that makes them very attractive will this technology move to 3.5" & 2.5" enterprise SATA/SAS drives and will this increase sales of 2.5" based storage arrays?

    Hopefully this time around they will succeed. Will the data on flash and magnetic disk work with disk defragmentation tools?

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