back to article Only way to stop the iPad: Flash-disk mutant SPEED FREAKS

With the rise of the iPad and the growing desire among consumers and enterprise for sexy and speedy gadgets, it seemed that flash gits were holding all the cards. The hard drive industry was holding its breath, wondering how to replicate the expensive experience. But what about hybrid disk drives, the ones that have a lump of …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It was phones not tablets that showed everyone what computing could be like.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      It was the IBM PC that showed everyone what computing could be like. Before that people were connected to central mainframes via dumb terminals. After that we connected the PCs with LANs. Then we connected to the Internet. Compared to those things, subsequent developments have been relatively insignificant.

  2. TeeCee Gold badge

    "It's not a great deal of flash capacity though..."

    Entirely adequate for the purpose though.

    I've been running one for a couple of years now. Very, very quick indeed once it's had a couple of weeks of use for the cacheing algorithm to get used to what you access frequently.

    I'd go as far as to say that in general use it's pretty much indistinguishable from an SSD. Bonus feature is that it doesn't need defragmenting to maintain performance[1], unlike conventional spinning disks. Presumably that's because frequent small-file access, where seek times make a significant contribution to speed, all occurs from flash.

    [1] So a huge plus for corp environments with the users locked down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "It's not a great deal of flash capacity though..."

      Yup - I've been running one in a test system at the office and it pretty much revived the machine (although I had to get creative as the 3.5" space for the drive wasn't cabled generously enough for a "normal" disk frame to mount the 2.5" form factor).

      I just noticed that the 750 GB Seagate Momentus has significantly dropped in price at my local shop so I'll get grab one tomorrow and stick it in my MacBook (well, after making and testing 2 full backups - standard approach for disk swaps :).

  3. ElsieEffsee

    You can put Fusion on one side

    ... Especially ss its the OS that's handling the storage but its still bloody quick. I have a Samsung 830 in a quad core gaming PC with Windows 7. If I turn both this and my Fusion equipped iMac on at the same time, the Apple can be logged in full use before I'm able to enter the password on the PC. Using a Fusion equipped Mac makes every other PC feel slow.

  4. Katie Saucey

    WTF is with that bar chart?

    Maybe it's just Monday and my caffeine/blood level is low.. but I can't figure out the x axis on this colourfully painted chart. The tittle is "Hybrid Possibilities", OK, I can see clearly there are many different products listed, but WTH does the length of the bar represent? A sales number? A relative market share or %? To further baffle me on closer inspection, I notice that there are 7 0 to 70 % total? 0 to 100 (in increments of 14.3??).

    What am I missing here?

    1. Matt Bucknall

      Re: WTF is with that bar chart?

      'What am I missing here?'

      It's a Tuesday?

      1. Katie Saucey

        Re: WTF is with that bar chart?

        Thanks, believe me at the time I made the post, it most definitely was Monday all over again...

  5. Annihilator Silver badge


    "So Seagate started the hybrid disk drive ball rolling, with its Momentus XT in May 2010"

    We're ignoring the failed attempt to get hybrid laptop drives in about 2007 then? I recall they were a bit of a flop mind, but the idea was there.

    1. Wibble

      Re: Sooner?

      I bought one of those for my MacBook Pro and found no appreciable difference in speed compared with a normal disc. Never bothered since.

      It's amazing that hard discs haven't changed size for the last 18 months. The biggest 2.5" 9.5mm 7200RPM drive is still 750Gb. Need all that space for the VMs and prog rock.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Sooner?

        I found no appreciable difference in speed compared with a normal disc

        You may have used the predecessor to the current Momentus, the 500GB one with 4GB of SSD cache, that was doing *something* but the algorithm wasn't great, and apparently 4GB is too small. From what I've read so far, the 750GB unit with 8GB is a different beast altogether.

        1. Annihilator Silver badge

          Re: Sooner?

          @Fred Flintstone - we're talking about the pre-Momentus range from Samsung that didn't really show much of a performance boost.

          @Dana W - that's not a hybrid drive, so unsure of your point?...

      2. Dana W

        Re: Sooner?

        My Macbook Pro has a 7200RPM Terabyte. An HGST. I paid $99 for it at the local Microcenter.

        Well worth the cost.

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  7. Mondo the Magnificent
    Thumb Up

    Momentus.. the shape of things to come?

    The Seagate Momentus XT disks do wonders to speed up boot times and isn't that what most users want, a really fast boot time?

    Perhaps as NAND dies are shrunk and the production costs decline, we'll see hybrid drives contain more than a fraction of a percent to one percent of flash capacity. I believe when we hit 10%+ flash capacity is when we'll really reap the benefit of these hybrid type drives.

    Of course the market for this type of technology is for those who understand it and the benefits it brings as well as the premium paid for it

    To most "consumers" the "hybrid drive" technology is "gobbly-geek" and fitting hybrid drives into "Joe Public's" laptop or desktop is like feeding caviar to pigs.

    1. Jim O'Reilly

      Re: Momentus.. the shape of things to come?

      It's not a capacity's a performance thing. SSD are 1000 times faster than a hybrid, overall. Yet, for most notebook users, the only value of speed is during boot. which is why boot time is the most quoted statistic.

      This isn't a comparison of like capacity HDD and SSD. The issue is entry price for the drives, and they are not far apart.

      Putting one of Intel's new mini-SSDs in a notebook makes sense, especially if they price out close to an entry HDD. With the SSD being light, rugged and low power, and since most users need less than 128GB of storage, why would I need a hybrid?

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Momentus.. the shape of things to come?

      >fitting hybrid drives into "Joe Public's" laptop or desktop is like feeding caviar to pigs.

      Rubbish. If anything, Joe Public has less patience for his computer. Joe Public is more likely to double click an application shortcut half a dozen times before the application has loaded from the spinning rust, ending up with six instances.

      >Of course the market for this type of technology is for those who understand it and the benefits it brings as well as the premium paid for it

      Apple have given in a catchy name (Fusion) and made it more or less invisible to the user, if they buy a machine with the correct drives. More expert users can roll their own, since it is an LVM in the OS.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Steve Todd

    Not so good for mobile devices

    There are two issues with spinning rust in mobile devices like phones and tablets - even with a flash cache built in. The first is power consumption - they are always going to need more, which is bad for battery life.

    The second is resistance to shock/impact. They don't react well to the careless movement that such devices get. Much better to stick with SSD for mobile and full sized SSD caches for laptops/desktops.

    1. regorama

      Re: Not so good for mobile devices

      Isn't power a consideration as well?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thumbs up for Momentus XT

    Certainly works well in a laptop, and doesn't seem to have the "lose all your data" failure modes so common with SSD.

    We're very much an SME, and can't justify the cost of a funky storage box that does caching.

    On the other hand fitting 4 of the 750GB Momentus XTs to an entry-level server sounds like a plan. In fact the mail server for this site has its message store on a 500GB Momentus XT (yes it is mirrored to a second drive).

    If these hybrid drives had about 4x the ratio of flash to total capacity they would be very attractive for this application.

    Please won't someone think of the poor and make a 1TB hybrid with 32GB of flash?

  11. Pantelis

    I had the 2.5" version of the momentus XT on my laptop for a while and it did make a difference to the boot of Windows but after that it was not much; perhaps as some mentioned the 4Gb flash is not big enough and the algorithms not as well optimised but I replaced it with a 240Gb SSD (€189) and the laptop is now a different machine all together! It even allows me to run a Win7 VM at the same time and both OS's run smoothly and fluently.

    Anything I buy from now on will come with SSD, I can't see myself going back to spinning disks again not just because of the performance but also for the reliability and battery life!

    Market dynamics being what they are, SSD's have come down in price considerably and will probably continue doing so making them more and more accessible and allowing for higher capacities and now that we have mSATA it means that you can have at the same time in a laptop a 128Gb or 256Gb SSD for windows, apps and important files and a spinning disk for secondary stuff. At the moment I use an external disks for that but next laptop will have mSATA and spinning disk most probably.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      I must admit I would have liked to go the whole hog to SSD as well, but price/storage is still not ideal.

      That's the main reason I like the Seagate Momentus XT (at least, the 750GB version with 8GB Flash): it doesn't cost that much more than a normal spindle, but gives the boost I like. I looked at combining a 64 or 128GB SSD with a spindle, but that got too complex. That's possibly for the next laptop :)

  12. Snapper Bronze badge

    Flash Smash

    With OWC in the states coming out with a 3.5" 3Tb SSD for example, I think you are going to see flash (and SSD) prices drop at a reasonable speed. Most flash RAM manufacturers must be waking up with a warm glow at the thought of the next few years. Of course, as soon as prices plummet you'll see a few go to the wall, but such is life.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't be the only one...

    ...who boots their machines and then goes to get a cup of coffee?

    Or goes through the pile of snail mail, or listens to voice messages left overnight, or the dozens of other things they could be doing besides staring at the screen and b*tching at how dreadfully long it take to boot?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can't be the only one...

      Its easy, don't run Windows and long boot times simply are not a problem.

      1. ed2020

        Re: I can't be the only one...

        "Its easy, don't run Windows and long boot times simply are not a problem."

        Alternatively, run Windows but don't bog it down with boatloads of crapware.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: I can't be the only one...

          >Alternatively, run Windows but don't bog it down with boatloads of crapware.

          Win 7 is a touch annoying... It will boot in about 30 secs off an SSD, but takes a minute longer if there is a USB HDD attached. Gr.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Am I the only one running sshfs on my tablet and phone (both Android). I get access to terrabytes of storage at home as though it's in my pocket, it's fairly secure, and with a cable broadband at home @ 100/10 it's perfectly usable. My data is not there for any cloud host to trawl through at will, and INGREDIENTS can expand it when I need. Also, because I only need to store things I need when away from wifi (rare) I could buy a cheap tablet at 130€ rather than spend a load on portable storage. I'll also not be crying if IT loose a device. Seems a win-win to me?

  15. Al Jones

    Power Consumption is more important that capacity

    for portable devices - I really don't need a 500GB drive in a portable device - I'd rather pay $100 for a 128GB SSD than $60 for a 500GB spinning disk if I'm buying a laptop, and I never want to see any spinning disk in a tablet!

    Unfortunately, cheap "Mass Market" laptops always come with the 500GB spinning disk - they'd be a much better buy with the SSD, and only cost $30-$40 more.

  16. Dropper

    Outsource your storage..

    Rather than wait for Apple or whatever other company to charge you $100s for large SD cards, I prefer to use my 500GB HD with built in WiFi access point. Apps for Android and iOS provide connectivity and I can stream to 8 devices. It has it's own battery, good for about 10 hours and can be connected to a router(WiFi or USB) to provide access via the Web-a-net if I choose to leave it at home. Oh and it costs the same as Apple, et all charge for installing a 64GB SD card instead of the base 16GB. $200 on 500GB which can be shared between up to 8 devices or on a 64GB SD card grocery stores sell for $30. Sure the SD card *might* be faster than the 250 mbs my HD can provide wirelessly, but I'll take the additional over 400GB storage plus flexibility any time..

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Outsource your storage..

      One way for Apple to reinvigorate the iPod Classic would be to have it act as a WiFi HDD for mobile devices. Or Cowon or Archos, or anyone else who still makes PMPs based on 1.8" HDDs.

      Just an idea, don't know how the figures work out.

  17. Nanners
    Thumb Down


    Why are pc makers always trying to make their crap MORE complicated and fragile? It's supposed to go the OTHER WAY. It ain't going to last folks.

  18. Mikel


    They should just give away a free laptop with those 1tb ssds. Problem solved.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong optimization point

    Who the hell cares how fast boot is? At most, you do it once per day! It annoys the crap out of me that hybrid hard drives seem to care primarily about caching the stuff you access when booting to make that fast because it makes for an impressive benchmark, and maybe keeping a few frequently used apps cached, but doing nothing for the things that have always made a hard drive so painful to use.

    The thing that makes hard drives slower than SSDs is random access. Use the cache to fix that - start by holding a copy of ALL the filesystem metadata in flash. Then you only need to read the file's data off the drive, and so long as it isn't badly fragmented, that will happen quite quickly. When you write to the disk, you'd write the metadata changes to the flash and data for small files could be staged in cache, with larger ones written through to the drive (and assuming you have adequate free space, it should be a streaming write happening at ~100 MB/sec so not too painful versus SSD)

  20. Graham Perrin

    solid state hybrid drive

    SSHD is more commonly solid state hybrid drive (not solid state hard drive).

  21. Hybrid disk drive

    Whats is the Window's fastest available 1T hybris disc

    I would like to receive information for work stations that work with windows,

    what is the fastest 1T hybrid disc drive that can be bought in March 2013, no matter the cost.

    Thanks in advance!

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