Seagate's New Hard Drives : A Solid Alternative

Using Seagate's new Laptop Thin Solid-State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) is a bittersweet experience.

Sweet because it indeed offers boot time and overall improvement somewhat similar to that of a solid-state drive (SSD) at a fraction of the cost, and bitter because its data transfer speed is slower than most regular hard drives'.

The Laptop Thin SSHD is designed specifically for laptops and supercompact desktops that focus on daily computing needs rather than data-moving-intensive tasks, and for this purpose, at the current cost of just $86 for 500GB, it delivers. You definitely don't want to use it as a secondary drive or in an external storage application, though.

If you're looking to upgrade your computer from a hard drive so the system will boot up faster, but don't want to invest in an SSD just yet, the Laptop Thin SSHD, as well as its predecessor, the 2nd-generation Momentus XT, is about the second best choice. The new drive also proves that SSHDs, for now, are not real alternatives to SSDs, such as these, for those who want uncompromising performance.

Similar to previous generations, the new Laptop Thin SSHD is a regular hard drive that has built-in 8GB of NAND flash memory, like the type of storage used in SSDs. The drive uses Seagate's Adaptive Memory Technology (AMT) that's designed to identify hot (frequently accessed) data and write it to the onboard flash memory part. The subsequent times the data is requested from the host, it will be read from the flash memory, and therefore will improve the access speed.

By design, AMT has to "learn" the patterns in which someone uses a computer and improvement is only observable in the subsequent times the same task is being executed. For example, once you have replaced a computer's hard drive with a Seagate SSHD, the first boot time might not show any difference at all. This proved to be trued in my testing, the test machine's boot time only improved (taking much shorter time) starting with the second boot.

On the other hand, the Laptop Thin SSHD is also quite different from the previous generation of Seagate hybrid drives. The first difference is the drive's spinning speed, which is now only 5,400rpm, as opposed to the Momentus drives' 7,200rpm. This means that the new drive is slower at data transferring, such as when copying a large amount of data from one drive to another, or from one place to another within itself. In fact, in my trial, it was about as slow as a regular 5,400rpm drive.

The second difference is that the NAND Flash memory part of the SSHD is now made of multilevel cell (MLC) NAND -- similar to the type used in most consumer-grade SSDs -- as opposed to the single-level cell (SLC) NAND, used in enterprise-grade SSDs. This helps lower the drive's cost but potentially means the flash memory part might become unreliable faster due to the lower write endurance (read more about that here), especially since the SSHD has only 8GB. In the future, there will be SSHDs with up to 32GB of flash memory.

Seagate says that the drive has algorithms that minimize the writing to the flash memory part and when used for its main purpose, as a main drive of a laptop or low-profile desktop, the SSHD's NAND flash memory part will outlast the drive's moving parts. This, of course, remains to be seen.

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Ditulis Oleh : Unknown Hari: 11:49 PM Kategori:


  1. I noticed that the hard drives that are faster have lower capacities and are much more expensive. What makes them lower capacity and more expensive, don't they just have to make the motor go faster?



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