Seagate announces first 3.5" hybrid hard drive

March 7, 2013 // 9:32 a.m.

Tags: #35 #hard-drive #hybrid-drive #hybrid-hard-drive #nand-flash #seagate #solid-state-hybrid-drive #solid-state-storage #ssd #storage

Storage specialist Seagate appears to be taking its focus on hybrid devices, which combine the mass-storage capabilities of spinning rust with the high-performance of NAND flash, very seriously indeed, announcing its first desktop-centric hybrid models.

Previous hybrid drives have focused on the laptop market, combining a fairly standard 2.5" SATA hard drive with a small chunk of high-speed NAND flash. Combined with a clever algorithm which puts the most frequently accessed data onto the flash, a hybrid drive can offer a serious performance boost while helping conserve battery life by spinning down the platters even during data access. Those who want the same best-of-both-worlds approach on their desktop, however, have been left mounting expensive and relatively low-capacity 2.5" hybrid drives in 3.5" adapters or opting for a roll-your-own software-based solution using a SATA or m-SATA SSD in addition to a spinning-platter drive.

Now, however, Seagate is looking to offer something a little more suitable in the form of its first 3.5" hybrid drive. Dubbed the Desktop SSHD (Solid State Hybrid Drive,) the company's first attempt to attack the desktop segment is to launch in capacities of up to 2TB - double that of the company's largest 2.5" hybrid drive - and with 8GB of NAND flash space for data caching. Using the same Seagate Adaptive Memory technology as its laptop equivalents - a trademarked name for what is, at heart, a relatively simple data caching algorithm - the disk promises to offer a serious speed boost to those who don't fancy juggling two or more drives in their system.

'Our customers want the highest storage capacity with the ability to access their data easily and quickly,' claimed Fredrik Hamberger, vice president of HP's consumer PC business, in support of Seagate's announcement. 'Integrating Seagate's SSHD solution into our rapidly growing portfolio of industry leading PCs will offer our customers a superior experience while running multiple applications.'

Sadly, neither Seagate nor HP were keen to share actual performance characteristics for the drives beyond a vague claim that the Adaptive Memory caching system will allow for a boost of up to four times on the PCMark Vantage benchmarking suite and provide an 'instant-on' fast-boot experience even on older hardware.

The desktop drives come as Seagate refreshes its laptop-centric 2.5" hybrid drive line, offering capacities of up to 1TB or an ultra-thin 7mm 500GB model for Ultrabook makers. Neither these nor the desktop models have been given a price as yet, with Seagate simply promising to launch the drives at competitive price points - something it will need to keep an eye on as the cost of pure-SSD storage devices drop ever lower.
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