Seagate releases new hybrid drive

Written by Brett Thomas

October 9, 2007 // 2:07 p.m.

Tags: #flash #hard-drive #hybrid #laptop #nand #platters #psd

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.