Seagate has ushered in the third generation of its hybrid solid state hard drives at Computex, showing off a slim, 7mm notebook model, as well as a desktop-sized drive, both of which aim to bring faster performance to mainstream notebooks and desktop PCs without compromising on capacity and price. They do this by combining a hard drive and a solid state drive.
The 2.5in Laptop Thin SSHD notebook drive has a standard SATA interface (6Gbs) and comes with 8GB of NAND flash memory built in to it, which is of the MLC (multi-level cell) type, rather than the SLC (single-level cell) type. It features a spin speed of 5400rpm and it has a single platter inside that delivers a 500GB capacity. There is a 1TB SSD hard drive available, too, which is 9.5mm thick and has two platters, called simply Laptop SSHD.
One of the key selling points of the Laptop Thin SSHD hybrid drive is its 7mm thickness. Seagate says it can be implemented in slim notebooks for a more reasonable price than an SSD-only solution. Furthermore, it can offer similar performance to an SSD-only solution when it comes to loading frequently-used applications, while at the same time offering a much larger storage capacity.
Seagate's senior director for 2.5in product line management, David Seesdorf, said "the drive is essentially self-learning" and that it features more advanced algorithms that can better monitor and detect the most regularly used applications on your computer and cache them for almost immediate loading. The cache responds better the more you use your system and the more consistently you load your favourite applications. However, the cache will also include data that Seagate, throughout its development, has learned would be beneficial to the end user to keep in the flash memory.
Seagate also said that the performance of the drive on its own would be on par with dual-drive solutions that can be found in many laptops, which include a separate hard drive and an mSATA-based solid state drive for caching. In that type of solution, notebook manufacturers can choose their own capacity flash module (usually 32GB), while with the single-drive Seagate drive solution this is fixed at 8GB.
The boost from the 8GB of built-in flash memory is operating system agnostic and can work on any computer. All of the data detection and analysis is performed within the drive so that the drive simply boosts the most requested data, regardless of the operating system that it is running.
Compared to the previous generation hybrid drives, the new laptop drives have a slower spin speed of 5400rpm rather than 7200rpm. The reason for this is so that heat and power can be better managed. Seagate said that because of the use of on-board MLC flash, a high level of performance can still be delivered at the lower spin speed.
Desktop users haven't been forgotten either, and the Desktop SSHD that Seagate has released also features 8GB of MLC flash memory, but with a lot more capacity and a spin speed of 7200rpm. The Desktop SSHD will be available in capacities of 1TB, 2TB, and also 4TB. Again, the aim of this drive is to bring a higher level of performance to desktop users in an affordable and simple solution.
The author of this article was flown to Computex in Taipei as a guest of Seagate.