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Seagate releases new hybrid drive

Seagate releases new hybrid drive

The new 5400.PSD by Seagate may not change many speed specs, but your battery life will thank you.

Many of us who are interested in hard drives have been waiting with baited breath for the release of new storage technology. Whether you're waiting for the SSD (Solid State Drive) or the PSD (Hybrid drive), it seems there's a lot to be gained by adding some flash. Well, Seagate has released the first hybrid for laptops...and does it deliver?

The press release that crossed my desk contained a lot of the general information, but here at bit-tech we like to dig a little deeper. So, after a couple calls to my friend at the company, here's the info you need to know about hybrid drives:

The PSD series of drive is designed for the laptop market, and there is not a desktop version that will be coming in the very near future. Therefore, all PSD drives are 2.5" and come in sizes of 80, 120 and 160GB. The drives feature 256MB of NAND flash memory along with the standard 8MB of onboard cache. Drive seek times are 12.5ms with a latency of 5.6ms along with the sustained write speed of 44 MB/s, which is actually equal to the current Momentus 5400.3 generation.

So if it doesn't speed up the drives, what does that 256MB of flash memory do? For one, it drastically reduces load-up, sleep, and hibernation wait times on Windows Vista. But much more importantly, it increases battery life by quite a large amount. For instance, the first notebook being sold with the drive - the Sony Vaio SZ650 - had a battery savings of 25 percent versus a standard 5400.3 160GB model. If you are one of the speed demons who uses a Momentus 7200.1 (like yours truly), you could be looking at battery savings of up to 50 percent.

Of course, this comes at a small price premium, but the amount seems to be fairly negligible. Over here in the States, the Momentus 5400 120GB PSD can be had for a cool $130, about $35 more than the same-sized Momentus 5400.3. That price could make it a great choice for any road warrior who needed a size increase anyhow. The drives haven't quite made it to UK shores just yet, but we'll update you as soon as we know a price.

Why no desktops? Seagate is instead focusing its Barracuda desktop line on speed and reliability enhancement, where power isn't so much a concern. The new 7200.11 series drives (sizes from 500GB-1TB) has a whopping 105 MB/s transfer rate - that's more than 20 MB/s faster than the Western Digital Raptor drives, which spin at 10k RPM!

We'll be putting those claims to the test soon enough....but in the meantime, why don't you tell us your thought on the hybrid release? Is this what you were expecting, or did you want to see something faster? Give us your impressions in the forums.

18 Comments

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Cupboard 9th October 2007, 15:20 Quote
Shame they are not doing the Barracuda 7200.11 in sizes less than 500gb, it would be nice to have one as a boot drive instead of the Raptor i have been dreaming about.
Tulatin 9th October 2007, 15:22 Quote
What's wrong with a half TB bootable? They're cheap...

Sadly, the .11's are pretty difficult to find atm - for us Canucks, NCIX has the 750s and 1Ts - but no 500s yet. They have the PSD's too... but all special order.
mclean007 9th October 2007, 15:25 Quote
--Fixed, thanks! - Da Dego
Cupboard 9th October 2007, 15:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulatin
What's wrong with a half TB bootable? They're cheap...

Sadly, the .11's are pretty difficult to find atm - for us Canucks, NCIX has the 750s and 1Ts - but no 500s yet. They have the PSD's too... but all special order.

Seems a bit of a waste, and I like to keep my stuff separate from my OS. If i had a 500gb drive, I would fill it up with rubbish:(.
GoodBytes 9th October 2007, 15:42 Quote
I heared the end results of this hybird drive disappoint:
http://www.dailytech.com/Seagate+Hybrid+Hard+Drives+Ship+and+Disappoint/article9195.htm
Da Dego 9th October 2007, 15:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodBytes
I heared the end results of this hybird drive disappoint:
http://www.dailytech.com/Seagate+Hybrid+Hard+Drives+Ship+and+Disappoint/article9195.htm

comes down to what you're looking for, I guess. That's why I was very specific that the specs don't differ from the 5400.3 drives. What DOES differ is the massive battery life improvement. :) Remember how we are always talking as consumers about cramming more benefit in the same power envelope? Well, you could use that flash to speed up the drive but keep the battery life constant, or you could recognize you're working on a laptop drive and try to keep performance the same while bringing down power draw. Seagate chose the latter, and personally I think it was a wise decision.
Renoir 9th October 2007, 16:16 Quote
The initial reviews I've seen of anything related to the "ready" technologies haven't really impressed me TBH. Brett have you got a link for the battery life savings you mention? Would be interested to know what the "true" bottleneck is to performance with flash based technologies like Readydrive and readyboost. Is it the speed of the flash, the amount of flash, the OS Drivers or something else? I have no doubt that hybrid drives and SSDs will play a key part in the future of storage so will be interesting to see how the market develops.
leexgx 9th October 2007, 21:55 Quote
the size of the flash is to small to make much performance or batt life

it at all when the OS is heavy and bloted (it work wunders on XP tho 128mb boot the rest for other programs if it was supported) the cache on the disk needs to be 1gb to start off from and 2gb if you want the hdd to stay not spinning for longer times as thats what haveing flash on the hard drive is for so the hard disk can stop spinning for longer and save power 256Mb or 1gb can not do that
with 2gb of flash on the disk that you will find optons for hard disk power down more offen as well the Flash is faster access times then an laptop hdd and the Flash can have faster data rates then the laptop disks more so when there is random access going on (0.2ms flash / 10-15ms hdd with an Masive impact on file random read performace)

its more an problem with the hard drive Vista ReadyDrive cant work well at all with 256mb of flash its likey trying to run vista with 512mb of ram its to small to be usefull unless vista ReadyDrive uses it for Small files Only like it does for rederyboost (usb sticks)
completemadness 9th October 2007, 22:01 Quote
I still don't understand this tech

How is constantly starting/stopping the drive going to help anything, id rather have less battery life then my HDD dieing after a year
devdevil85 9th October 2007, 22:16 Quote
that's just it, due to the solid-state flash holding the most accessible/needed data the HDD is accessed less, which in turn draws less power and less noise

I just wish they bring an SSD out for desktop usage.....faster read/write times for OS's and games if there's enough flash memory available.....I seriously can't wait.....
airchie 9th October 2007, 22:36 Quote
How would these work in raid?
My new Toshiba X200 lappy should arrive tomorrow and just for shits n giggles I was planning to put in a couple SSD drives in raid 0.
Only problem with that is HUUUUGE cost (and I'm currently a poor student :().
So if you could use these in raid to combine the cache it would be handy.

Can't see it working though since the raid controller basically makes the two drives appear as one.
Would be interested in knowing for sure though. :)
Tyinsar 10th October 2007, 00:45 Quote
What's the life expectancy of the flash portion (under heavy use)? What happens if / when that part (with limited read / write cycles) dies? The extra level of cache is interesting but how safe is it? Those are the questions that would keep me from buying. Could they use a DRAM module instead?
completemadness 10th October 2007, 12:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by devdevil85
that's just it, due to the solid-state flash holding the most accessible/needed data the HDD is accessed less, which in turn draws less power and less noise

I just wish they bring an SSD out for desktop usage.....faster read/write times for OS's and games if there's enough flash memory available.....I seriously can't wait.....
The flash is only 256mb, its not going to hold that much

And when it gets asked for something not in flash (or when the flash is full of stuff to write) the disc has to be spun up - and that has to mean the disc will be spinning up and down all the time, which must wear it out pretty fast
The_Beast 10th October 2007, 23:46 Quote
flash mem is too small to do anything
hitman012 11th October 2007, 00:15 Quote
The Flash memory isn't meant to hold all your data. Why do you think hard drives have cache in the first place?

The Flash holds only frequently accessed data - the core files of the operating system for example, or any other files you might have open. When most people use laptops they tend to do one thing for a reasonable period of time, such as write a Word document or browse the Internet. 256MB of cache is enough to hold any files that are frequently accessed during these activities and eliminate frequent referral back to data on the platters of the hard drive.

Also, sorry to be a cpemma (;)), but the article should read "waiting with bated breath" rather than "baited".
Perforated 11th October 2007, 13:56 Quote
OK so it's perhaps not enough for Vista, it's perfect for XP, but how would this affect much smaller operating systems? I'm running DSL on an old laptop that sorely needs a new HDD to drag some life out of it! Performance isn't an issue at all, it's only used for dull stuff, but a little more battery life never hurt, and it'd be something worth salvaging if the thing died!
airchie 14th October 2007, 12:52 Quote
Do you need drivers to make the drives work properly?
ie, will it work in Linux and XP etc or does it need Vista's new cache-boost type stuff?

Also, can you manually control what goes in there?
You might want to put specific things in there to make it faster for what you want to do rather than what the system thinks you might do.
ie, games etc.

And anyone know the answer to the previous question about RAIDing these? :)
GoodBytes 14th October 2007, 16:22 Quote
You need Vista to take full advantage of it. under XP or other OS it might work, but just as a normal HDD.
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