Seagate bets on hybrid storage

October 26, 2010 // 10:18 a.m.

Tags: #bill-watkins #hybrid #hybrid-drive #hybrid-storage #momentus #seagate #seagate-momentus #solid-state #ssd #steve-luczo

Storage specialist Seagate has continued its traditional stance against solid-state storage, with chief executive Steve Luczo taking over from anti-SSD campaigner Bill Watkins despite his company's launch of several solid-state devices.

Back in 2008 then-chief executive Bill Watkins poured scorn on SSDs, claiming that he didn't 'see the flash notebook selling.' Although Watkins would leave the company in 2009, somewhat ironically to join the board of flash storage specialist Vertical Circuits, it looks like his replacement, Steve Luczo, is no more convinced by the technology.

During the company's regular conference call with investors and analysts, Luczo responded to a question about the new Apple MacBook Air - which is only available with solid-state storage - with the statement that 'I would say though that from what we know of the offering of, for example Apple, the percentage of their units that they sell with SSDs versus HDDs is a tiny fraction - I think it’s under 3 per cent, certainly under 5 per cent.'

Luczo went on to state that while 'there are certain things that are certainly very nice about [SSD storage, there are] other things that are a little bit frustrating: the cost and the lack of capacity.'

Laying out his frustrations with the technology, that included spending 'a lot of time cleaning out files so I can make room for not a lot of content' and longevity issues that mean 'my SSD drive takes about 25, 30 seconds to boot now versus the 12 seconds when I bought it,' Luczo went on to explain what he sees as the future of storage: the hybrid drive.

Detailing the company's work in the field of hybrid storage, which combines a small flash-based SSD with a larger mechanical hard drive, Luczo explained to the analyst that 'with the additional layer of caching [available in hybrid drives] we believe that downstream, from a product perspective, there will be performance advantages to [hybrid] SSD whether or not that has to do with instant on or application load or what a load looks like year or two after you have your product versus that day you buy it.'

With the majority of the industry concentrating on improving longevity and capacity on pure flash-based solid-state storage devices, it remains to be seen if Seagate's clear focus on hybrid drives will pay off in the long run.

Would a hybrid drive offer you the increased performance and high capacity that you're craving from a storage device, or is Luczo sending the company down the wrong path? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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