Hybrid Hard Drives: A Technology Of The Future?
The big problem with hybrid hard drives was that the initial generation of drives has been hampered by the use of slow flash memory chips and firmware problems, which ended up causing the performance compared to magnetic hard drives that were too small to justify difference in cost. In summary, all HD has a small cache of RAM, which although had small capacity, but were very fast, offering considerable gains in many operations. Flash memory chips are much slower, so that in many situations the small cache of RAM found in regular HDDs offer more tangible gains than a large cache of flash memory.
Another problem was the adoption of SSD Caching by Intel, which overshadowed the hybrid hard drives, offering a solution that was similar from a practical standpoint. Instead of paying more for a hybrid HD, you could pay for a small SSD, which would be automatically used by the Z68 chipset (and successors) as an intelligent cache, storing 20, 40 or 64 GB of frequently accessed data.
Intel invested heavily in both the chipset optimizations as in the firmware (even creating a family of SSDs optimized for the task), which resulted in tangible gains in performance. At the opening of applications and games, for example, the system ends the Intel offering similar results to an SSD, but on the other hand gains are inconsistent, varying according to the frequency and order in which applications are open.
Despite setbacks, Seagate insisted segment, launching the third generation of hybrid hard drives, as the Seagate Momentus XT 750 GB:
It is a drive of 2.5 ", aimed for use in notebooks, which combines a 750 GB magnetic drive with 8 GB of cache, faster chips based on SLC flash memory that Seagate could find. Briefly, you could use the Intel SSD caching, and with greater flexibility, since the Momentus XT can be installed on any system (whether it is a dedicated server or notebooks), regardless of the setting or the chipset used. entire cache management is done by the drive, dispensing any special support from the operating system.
Although with a drive of 2.5, the platters spin at 7200 RPM, ensuring just the beginning of a performance well above that of most drives of 2.5 ", which use much lower revs. Seagate also improved the intelligence regarding firmware drives with 500 GB and 4 GB of cache of the previous generation, making the drive smarter about what should or should not be cached, taking into account the frequency with which files are accessed, considering size and access latency.
In terms of performance, the Momentus XT is quite interesting, offering gains very similar to those offered by the Intel SSD caching. These numbers show an ideal scenario where the load time of applications is very close to that offered by an SSD.
The conclusion is that the Momentus XT remains the central problem of earlier generations of hybrid drives, which is the fact of being halfway between the low cost of hard drives and magnetic performance of SSDs in a market that is increasingly polarized between the two extremes. The long-term technology tends to be abandoned in favor of systems based on the chipset cache and the use of SSDs.
This explains the fact that only Seagate is investing in technology, and even then only in a series of drives, compared to the dozens of different manufacturers that are investing in the production of SSDs.
About Author: Pravin Ganore is an IT expert at ESDS Software Solution Pvt. Ltd. He specially writes about hosting services that includes Turnkey Solution, Dedicated Hosting, Data Center Services, CBS Core Banking Solutions, Cloud Hosting, and etc.