Feeds

Hybrid hard drives: what's not to like?

A flash stash for little cash

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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? ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
It's Big, it's Blue... it's simply FABLESS! IBM's chip-free future
Or why the reversal of globalisation ain't gonna 'appen
'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
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
CAGE MATCH: Microsoft, Dell open co-located bit barns in Oz
Whole new species of XaaS spawning in the antipodes
Microsoft and Dell’s cloud in a box: Instant Azure for the data centre
A less painful way to run Microsoft’s private cloud
AWS pulls desktop-as-a-service from the PC
Support for PCoIP protocol means zero clients can run cloudy desktops
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.