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IT'S HERE: Seagate ships 'affordable' desktop hybrid drive

Flashy mutant for the price of normal disk?

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Seagate is developing an internal desktop hybrid hard drive with a flash cache to speed PC boot and application load times to near-SSD levels at little more than plain ordinary disk prices. It's also rebranding its Momentus XT notebook drives as Laptop SSHDs and introducing a single platter laptop Thin SSHD.

This third generation Seagate hybrid drive development comes shortly after Seagate decided to stop producing disk-only Momentus drives.

Seagate SSHD

Seagate SSHD schematic.

The Desktop SSHD (Solid State Hard Drive), which we think is an evolution of the existing Desktop HDD, will store up to 2TB of data on its platters and have an 8GB cache. Seagate says it picks out which data to stick in cache using Adaptive Memory Technology, as used on its Momentus XT hybrid hard drive, now called the Laptop SSHD.

That means high-access-rate data goes into the flash cache and is served up at NAND speed with no delay caused by seek time as a disk read head locates a data track and waits for the desired blocks to spin round to it.

Seagate says Windows 8 can boot in less than 10 seconds from the Desktop SSHD, while Windows 7 makes a bit of a muck of it, only getting down to 12 seconds. Seagate says its own fast boot technology is integrated or combined with Windows 8's fast boot technology, hence the 2 second saving.

It appears obvious that the 2TB model has an extra one or two platters - why else would it have larger Z-Height dimensions? We think the desktop SSHD has 500GB platters, with the 1TB model having two and the 2TB product four platters. It spins at 7,200rpm, we understand, and uses a 6Gbit/s SATA interface.

Seagate's website has a Desktop SSHD section which provides some details, but not many:

Seagate SSHD table

The few desktop SSHD details Seagate provides.

The laptop SSHD in the table is our old friend the 2.5-inch Momentus XT which comes in a 1TB model with a 500GB Laptop Thin SSHD companion, 7mm thick - our other old friend, the single platter Momentus Thin but with added flash cache. Both spin at 7,200rpm, we understand. Seagate claims these drives are up to five times faster than a 5,400rpm notebook drive.

Dell and Lenovo provided supportive quotes for the laptop SSHDs. Dell's Kirk Schell, commercial PC group VP, said: "Dell plans to incorporate Seagate technology across an array of our next-generation products." Mmmm.

Lenovo's Jerry Gross, global procurement VP, added his bit: "We look forward to integrating this SSHD technology into a number of our PC families."

Hybrid drive technology is set to spread like wildfire across the tablet, notebook and desktop landscape, with both Toshiba and Western Digital on the hybrid drive hunt following pioneer Seagate. ®

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