back to article IT'S HERE: Seagate ships 'affordable' desktop hybrid drive

Seagate is developing an internal desktop hybrid hard drive with a flash cache to speed PC boot and application load times to near-SSD levels at little more than plain ordinary disk prices. It's also rebranding its Momentus XT notebook drives as Laptop SSHDs and introducing a single platter laptop Thin SSHD. This third …


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  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Educate me?

    Is this thing built effectively with a separate partition in flash, on which one might install the critical operating system bits and pieces, or is it something kind of sideways upon which the disk itself will cache early-used/often used files?

    That is - does it require OS knowledge of its intimate details to get the best - or indeed anything - from it, or does it work with anything, say vanilla Linux?

    1. Charles 9

      Re: Educate me?

      According to the article the flash acts as a cache, so it's integrated to the drive.

      It's something that piques my curiosity, to say the least, since I tend to packrat and accumulate lots of data. However, Seagate and I have rather a bad history together (too many of their drives start going clickety-click on me).

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Educate me?

      The 8GB cache is managed by the drive electronics, not by the OS. It seems to be monitoring what you access and how often, and adjust cache contents accordingly. You can notice this by the way it speeds up over the first couple of days you install it, and even the 3rd or 4th cold boot is already dramatic.

      I stuck one in my laptop, and it performs rather impressively. I am not sure how it assesses what moves where, so I'm a bit reluctant to use a crypto file system, but as a vanilla swap-and-restore-from-original replacement it's been superb under OSX, and I have heard similar stories about Win 7.

      Having said that, my purchase decision was based on the 750GB model dropping in price. Now I know why :).

      1. Arthur 1

        Re: Educate me?

        It's probably very similar to Intel SRT. Caching is done by logical blocks, the most used blocks are kept in the cache and on the disc, reads/writes to those blocks only have to deal with the cache (SSD speed) and can write-back to disc later (controlled by drive controller/firmware). Writes to less used (uncached) blocks have to deal with magnetic disc as normal.

        The exact caching policy I'm not sure about, but probably looking for frequent access. So the sensitive OS files that get touched a lot will be cached, the 50 GB of Simpsons episodes you watched once and then left alone will stay on magnetic platters. Except Mr Plow, natch.

        1. andreas koch
          Thumb Up

          - Re: Educate me?

          The Momentus XT only caches reads. Writing to disk is always done as write through, so there's no speed advantage there, apart from the drive itself being a quite good one compared to the usual 5400 rpm lappy drives.

          The process of caching is done by the disk controller only and thereby works below OS level.

          I'm using an old 500GB Momentus XT (nearly 2 years now) in a Toshiba laptop running Ubuntu and it's always been fast and reliable.

          I think it's a good idea on a budget; nevertheless: let's see the price for the WD SSHDs that have 3x the NAND on board...

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: - Educate me?

            Thank you, kind people!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    read "post-flood affordable".

    In any case, they can fuck off, I use a 60 and 90 GB ssd for system/progrs drive, and the old-school hdds for storage. Neither is seagate, and won't be, ever. Or any of the companies they have purchased and "optimized". That said, the choice has become severely crippled.....

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: "affordable"

      Definitely a subject worthy of swear words.

    2. Gary Bickford

      Re: "affordable"

      between 15 and 10 years ago or so I was buying quite a few drives, and was buying the 10,000 and 15,000 RPM drives not too long after they came out - just long enough that the heat problems were pretty well dealt with. Back then Seagate SCSI drives were the best in speed and reliability (we did cook a couple of the 15,000 drives early on though.) I haven't bought any drives in the last few years so I haven't kept up with the industry. Are Seagates no longer the 'expensive but reliable and fast' brand?

      1. MondoMan

        Re: "affordable"

        Seagate dropped its 5-year warranty on consumer drives a few years back. WD has meanwhile worked hard on differentiating its drives, with their Green, Blue, Black, and now Red models. Black (marketed as having improved robustness and performance) and Red (marketed as optimized for NAS applications) have 5-year warranties; the others are in the 2-3 year range with most Seagate drives (Momentus XT's have 5-year warranties).

      2. Vic

        Re: "affordable"

        > Are Seagates no longer the 'expensive but reliable and fast' brand?


        Seagate used to be pretty good. Then they borged the devastatingly bad Maxtor brand.

        From that point on, anything with a "Seagate" label on it cost what a Maxtor used to, and performed just as badly :-(

        I switched to Samsung at that time - and had marvelous success with them. And then Seagate bought Samsung's HDD business...


  3. Jediben

    Too small

    2TB was the storage of 2010. This is 2013, we demand 6TB+!

    1. pixl97

      Re: Too small

      If you are looking for huge amounts of storage, this is not the drive you are looking for, you want a 4TB drive.

      If you are looking for super fast access, you are looking for an SSD.

      If you are looking a trade off between both, this is the drive you are looking for.

      I've used the XTs in notebooks and so far I've been impressed. I do wish the large desktop drives came with 16GB of flash, that fits my common 'working set' of data better. For the vast majority of office workers the 8GB does just fine. I've put a number of XTs in Core2 type laptops that have plenty of CPU and ram, but the manufactures disk that shipped with it was dog crap, and it makes all the difference in the world. The end users stop looking at buying new laptops because now the machine is more then 'fast enough' for their daily tasks.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Re: Too small

        If you are "looking for both", then you are probably looking for a mix of drive types or just multiple drives.

        I've seen improved response times just by adding conventional spindles. It's like having multiple cores. You don't have all your eggs in one basket and all of your work funneling through a single shared resource.

        That way Plex can do whatever it does to hammer the disks it's on and it won't necessarily impact anything else. '-p

    2. Captain Scarlet

      Re: Too small

      Well the NAND cache is to small for me, I was hoping for at least 32GB so it can compete with seperate cache drives. Problem I suspect is the amount of room left with the spinning rust which is a shame.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    7200 rpm 2.5 inch ?

    Erm think you might want to correct the article:

    Seagate takes 7.2k notebook drives out back - and shoots them

  5. S4qFBxkFFg

    Chips on a Platter

    It does appear to sort of replicate what I've been doing with an SSD mounted as / and a conventional HD as /home, with the exception that it decides what goes in the chips.

    Hmm. Unsure if this is a good thing.

    I'd want to know if it's MLC or SLC, and also what happens when the drive gets DBANed.

    1. Arthur 1

      Re: Chips on a Platter

      If you're strongly concerned about the HD outliving the flash or the characteristics of the SSD portion (in an integrated drive like this, probably the cheapest TLC Samsung would sell them) then consider converting your existing two-drive solution into an equivalent caching solution.

      All the newer Intel motherboards support Smart Response Technology, which lets you designate one drive as the SSD cache and another drive as the main disc. Same effect as this. Those boards usually come with an mSSD mount on the motherboard so you don't even have to waste space in your case on the cache drive.

    2. MondoMan

      Re: Chips on a Platter

      The Momentus XT (at least previously) used SLC flash for its cache.

  6. 1Rafayal

    I have a 750MB hybrid drive on my laptop, installed recently along with Windows 8.

    It takes about 20 seconds to boot from cold, which is still pretty fast if you ask me.

    1. Arthur 1

      Sounds about right. The 12 seconds figure is a fresh install with nothing else on it. My pure SSD system drive takes about 20 seconds now that I have my full selection of cruft installed.

      I'd bet you're getting SSD or near-SSD speeds on boot.

      1. 1Rafayal

        At the moment, I have Skype and Spotify kicking in at boot.

        Not installed any AV yet (not sure if I should get Kaspersky or NOD). I also have recently installed 16gb of RAM, which helps things along nicely.

        I am trying to decide whether or not to install Visual Studio 2012, ill wait until I actually need to use it on this machine, but IntelliJ runs very nicely indeed as well as JRockit, which is normally a pile of pish (the mission control gubbins).

        The one concession I have made is installing a third party start button type thing, but I am getting used to TIFKAM.

        Plus, since installing Windows 8, the world hasnt ended, which is nice. Eadon's non-stop rhetoric did actually start to make me a bit nervous.

    2. pixl97


      The manufactures bios choices and hardware drivers can make a significant difference at boot up, I swear some of it has lines like this

      #Wait 5 seconds on firmware load to make sure crappy hardware interface has actually loaded

      init_wireless_device_firmware ( wait 5);

      Also, add Windows Pro to a domain server and you'll find on the average AD setup the majority of your boot time ends up waiting on the network.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Are you dual booting on that drive ? Be interesting to see it's perfomance on a dual boot windows/linux set up.

      Anyone out there got that set up and care to report ?

      1. 1Rafayal

        Re: @1rafayal

        No, not yet.

        I had planned to test out Truecrypt with a second OS, which will either be CentOS or XBuntu.

        I have have ran a few VM's on it though, and it coped very, very well.

        Been downloading games from GOG and steam this evening, when running older games like Star Wars Battle Front 2, load times are nearly non-existent.

        The drive only cost £119 from Dabs, so far I cannot recommend it enough. The look on my buddies faces when it comes out of standby is hilarious, on Windows 7 on the old disk it used to take about 15 mins before the machine was useable, now its just a few seconds.

    4. Matt_payne666

      Ive a Gen1 500GB momentus XT and it cold boots my win8 enterprise core2duo laptop to the logon screen in 14s, and another 12 to join the domain....

      Had this thing for a few years, tried a full SSD VertexIII and yes, its quicker but instantly compared to almost instantly wasn't worth the space trade off...

    5. DiBosco

      Impressive. My BIOS takes at least twenty seconds before it even decides it's going to let me HDD have a go at loading the OS! Although it's not as bad as my Blu Ray player which takes a good twenty seconds from pressing eject to actually spitting the disk out!

  7. pear


    I have a corsair accelerator with 40gb

    it works well though run with some background software which is not ideal.

  8. Tom 7

    Boots W8 in 10 seconds?

    Presumably that means its in the cache which either means they haven't actually done anything else with W8 and or they've rebooted a lot?

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Boots W8 in 10 seconds?

      Or the caching algorithm notes down files that are accessed shortly after power up and either adds them to a special partition or increases their weight.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New file system

    Can Microsoft, Apple and the Linux Foundation form a consortium for making a universal file system? Something that's backward compatible with NTFS, works on all OSes and minimizes wasted space on huge disk volumes.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: New file system

      Not really. Each have competing needs.

      ext, for example, scatters writes around the disc in a pattern because it assumes multiple people will be accessing the system at the same time which makes for a very random assortment of disk accesses.

      ZFS was designed for use on large systems. Its logical limits surpass physical limitations, removing the need to worry about them. Meanwhile, its designers understood the problem of silent corruption (where the odds of it happening increase with size), so it sacrifices a little capacity and performance so as to be able to better catch these spontaneous corruptions.

      FAT and NTFS, OTOH, assume a low user count and are designed to better allow the compacting of the file system so one can better perform sequential reads. NTFS takes the extra step of preferring its master file table towards the center of the disk to reduce the average seek time.

      I'm just listing a couple of their more distinguishing traits. Basically, with different goals you get different filesystem structures, each with their pros and cons.

  10. Nigel 11

    Not quite here yet

    Seagate website says "no price or purchase options available". Sigh.

  11. David Kelly 2

    Good for Apple!

    The more I read about attempts to retrofit this technology the more I like Apple's solution with two separate drives, one filesystem.

    What I'd like to see is some mechanism to put both "drives" in one for a single laptop bay. Perhaps as others have suggested statically map the solid state storage to known block range to give control to the filesystem driver.

    1. Vic

      Re: Good for Apple!

      > I like Apple's solution with two separate drives, one filesystem.

      Well, the idea somewhat predates Apple :-)

      I keep meaning to try LVMTS - a mix of SSD / HDD, with the allocation being driven by stats gathered from LVM. So it'll work much like this hybrid, but across as many separate devices as you like.


  12. FutureShock999

    Outstanding drives from experiience...

    I have a 750GB Momentus XT in an i7 monster laptop, and I have to say it made the thing fly as soon as I switched it for the old drive. I have since moved to a SSD main laptop, and yes it is quicker, but at only a third of the storage space I often miss my old drive. If you have a larger case you can certainly get the same effect with two drives, but for smaller form factors having them both in one package is fantastic. Having said that, I would probably not retreat from SSD in my laptop with a private Synology cloud for my main storage...if you have the dosh. Otherwise, get this.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i would like to be certain the flash fails gracefully so the cache decreases over time

  14. Aitor 1

    Flash dead and then?

    Is it really such a good idea to place flash in a HDD so it gets cooked? What happens if the flash fails?

    Unless these questions are answered, my guess it is a not so reliable option... way too risky for me (and I DO have backups).

    1. Nate Amsden

      Re: Flash dead and then?

      In theory nothing happens, the disk may just continue working w/o the flash. Though it's possible depending on the design that the whole drive might fail..

      The flash is a read only cache, so if it fails no data is lost.

      I have had my 500GB XT spindle kick the bucket once on initial setup, though the cached flash data kept running. Only happened once in about a year or usage.

  15. tentimes

    Affordable? How so?

    It can only be called 'affordable' if we have a price and the article does not quote a price.

    All our previous experience shows these type of drives being priced so high that it is more sensible just to buy a small SSD + HD.

    How do we know this one is any different?

  16. Alan Denman

    Quite an occasion.

    A momentus one, obviously

  17. LeRoo

    Pass, Pass, Fail

    Faster HDD = Pass

    Cheaper HDD = Pass

    Moving Parts = Fail

    Oh well, looks like the daily data recovery drudgery will be set to continue as this technology spreads 'like wildfire' into all our highly mobile (or prone to bashing around) equipment...

  18. danwat1234

    5400RPM? Ewww

    5400RPM for your 3rd gen Hybrid drives don't make sense. It is opposite to your policy of desktop drives, where you no longer make 5400/5900RPM desktop drive but just 7200RPM drives. This was because you think 5400RPM drives waste time and don't save that much power and you are exactly right.

    Why not make the same policy for laptop drives? Power consumption isn't an issue. A 5400RPM vs 7200RPM drive takes less than 1 watt more on average. I know hybrid drives are a bit different but they still benefit from fast mechanicals since it's only 8GB of flash and doesn't cache writes.

  19. matg

    Where from?

    Where can I buy one of these?

    Looked all over but cant find a UK stockist.

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