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A move to hybrid?

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Aaron Rakers said: "The notion of hybrid drives continues to be a non-starter. I think the true idea of where things are going will come out of this holiday season at the consumer level."

Does Luczo think notebook computing is going diskless? "No, I don’t."

However, he did say that diskless smart consumer devices drive a need for nearby HDD storage: "We just view it as more devices that are computing and creating data and, if they’re low capacity on the edge, that means they need a lot of storage capacity down close to the edge. And whether [or] not that’s in a NAS box or code in the cloud or in a local cloud, these are all markets that we serve. So the more that people do creative things with computers and devices, we're all for [it] - and Steve is certainly at the forefront of that."

On the one hand, diskless notebooks are not going to become widespread and, on the other, smart and connected diskless devices will create content that needs to be accessed and stored local to them. Seagate has its FreeAgent and BlackAmour products to serve that need.

As only Seagate makes a hybrid drive like the Momentus XT, will notebook manufacturers - who prefer to have more than one source for disk drives - adopt them? Will other HDD manufacturers make them - and could Seagate license its hybrid drive IP?

Bob Whitmore, Seagate's chief technology officer, said: "We would certainly expect that there will be competitors launching hybrid drives … We have a lot of IP in this area, and a lot of know-how in a lot of investment that has occurred over several years and, no, we’re not planning on licensing that."

Still, read-caching of active files or blocks: how difficult is that?

Citing regulatory restrictions in the light of talks Seagate is having with certain parties about going private, the company declined to give an estimate for revenues and profits in the next quarter.

The net of this is that Seagate recognises notebook users are frustrated with slow boot and application load times. SSD-based systems fix these problems but currently slow down over time.

The hybrid drive fixes that problem and notebook OEMs and maybe tablet manufacturers will adopt them, Seagate hopes - particularly when its competitors produce them too.

Diskless or smart and connected edge devices will produce lots of content that needs to be stored locally or in the cloud, meaning on disks, so don't worry about a falling off in HDD demand, even if notebooks become diskless, which they won't. ®

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