Feeds

Hybrid hard drives: what's not to like?

A flash stash for little cash

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Flash-based SSD drives may be bloody fast, but they're also bloody expensive. For some road warriors, price is immaterial, but for most mortals — or for their employers — price is everything.

This is where hybrid hard drives come into their own, delivering better performance than traditional hard drives, but for only a small premium.

At today's cash-per-gigabyte prices, MLC-based NAND flash is priced at a whopping 22.3X premium compared with a 320GB 2.5-inch mobile hard disk drive, according to Aaron Rakers, an enterprise hardware analyst at Stifel Nicolaus.

There's no disputing that a flash-based notebook screams. A 2.4GHz MacBook Pro fitted with a Mercury Extreme Pro SSD from Other World Computing, for example, booted and loaded Adobe's CS5 in 28 seconds while a 2.6GHz MacBook Pro fitted with a hard drive took almost 70 seconds: its faster CPU was defeated by flash.

But OWC suggests you fit the SSD as a system and application load drive, and keep your bulk data on an externally-attached hard drive. The reason is simple: it's too expensive to replace all those hundreds of gigabytes of hard drive capacity with flash.

Money talks

An OWC 240GB Mercury Extreme Pro solid state drive is $649.99. You can buy a 250GB Seagate 2.5-inch, 7200rpm hard drive at OWC for $62.99, a tenth of the price. You really do have to be loaded to rip out the hard drive and replace it completely with flash.

But — and this is a big but — the main point of a notebook on the road is that you have everything in a single case. You are compromising your mobility if you travel with an SSD set up only for booting and loading applications. For your data, you'd need to lug an external drive and cable.

So let's turn to hybrid hard drives — Seagate's Momentus XT is a good example. This sticks a 4GB flash drive into a 2.5-inch Momentus hard drive's enclosure. It's enough, Seagate says, to get system boot time down to within a few seconds of a flash boot drive and at a cost that's only $20 or so above the ordinary hard drive cost.

Replace your flash-less hard drive with this hybrid and you'll get a much faster-loading notebook at a much more reasonable price than with a flash boot drive, and you can take it on the road without additional cables and an external drive. What's not to like? ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster
6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
Symantec backs out of Backup Exec: Plans to can appliance in Jan
Will still provide support to existing customers
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.