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Hybrid Hard Drives Just Need 8GB of NAND

timothy posted about a year ago | from the asset-allocation dept.

Data Storage 373

judgecorp writes "Research from Seagate suggests that hybrid hard drives in general use are virtually as good as solid state drives if they have just 8GB of solid state memory. The research found that normal office computers, not running data-centric applications, access just 9.58GB of unique data per day. 8GB is enough to store most of that, and results in a drive which is far cheaper than an all-Flash device. Seagate is confident enough to ease off on efforts to get data off hard drives quickly, and rely on cacheing instead. It will cease production of 7200 RPM laptop drives at the end of 2013, and just make models running at 5400 RPM."

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Of course! And you never need more than 640K RAM! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44509609)

No chance this is just the company saying this because they missed the boat on solid state drives?

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44509679)

What do you mean "missed boat"? Almost all PCs still ship with HDDs and I'm sure a lot of customers (both consumers and OEMs) are interested in hybrid solutions too.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (2, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | about a year ago | (#44509929)

Yup, they missed the boat. Anyone who has used a SSD will go back to using a regular HD when they stop making SSDs, and the last available one breaks.

SSDs really are the bee's knees.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44510005)

Yup, they missed the boat. Anyone who has used a SSD will go back to using a regular HD when they stop making SSDs, and the last available one breaks.

SSDs really are the bee's knees.

Well, qualified, they are are the knees of bees.

I have a Samsung which likes to give me read errors on boot up, after a try or two it gets its act together. Tried another one and the same effect. Samsung's tech support on this is nearly as good as staring at a wall of drying paint. (If anyone has a recommendation on the best, meaning most reliable 250GB or more SSD, please feel free to pass it along)

If you don't have most of your stuff stored via a library or other link on an NSA or server and SSD would be preferable, but if you're only needing to boot up an SSD is probably a bit more than you need, though the low capacity drives are approaching the price of low capacity mechanical memory. Soon I expect most new personal data devices (i.e. PC/Mac) will all by using SSDs.

Re: Of course! And you never need more than 640K R (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44510159)

Intel 330 Series 2.5" 180GB SATA 6Gb/s Solid State Drives

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (5, Funny)

Traciatim (1856872) | about a year ago | (#44510231)

If you don't have most of your stuff stored via a library or other link on an NSA or server . . .

Wait a sec . . . How do you access all of your data at the NSA? do they offer a subscription service or something?

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (4, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44510057)

I've used an SSD. Works great for my laptop and router, don't care for it for my desktop largely due to price. For $60, I can get an 80GB SSD or I can get a 2TB HDD. That 80GB SSD is going to require an additional HDD anyway for storage for many people.

Most consumers are still going to go with cheapest and, outside of the tech-oriented crowd, don't really care if they have to wait an extra few seconds. As far as I'm concerned, the SSD boat is still boarding passengers and is no where close to leaving just yet. Once SSD prices are more competitive with hard drives (which could be another decade or two at the least), then you can say that ship has sailed. Until then, cost will trump performance for the largest markets.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44510137)

Wake me up when I can get multi-TB SSDs at an affordable price.

For most people, regular HDDs are better. Not to mention quite a bit cheaper. I use one of my for backup, and that many write-erase cycles would be murder on an SSD. What's more, getting an 2TB SSD would be rather challenging.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#44510269)

Thats what Network Storage is for. SSDs are meant to be treated like a hot rod. Hot and fast, but burns out faster. Still worth it.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#44509723)

No chance this is just the company saying this because they missed the boat on solid state drives?

Or because 5400 rpm drives are much cheaper to produce, not requiring nearly as stringent tolerance levels as 7200/10k/15k rpm drives?

What's certain is that the worst case times will increase, and that's when people get irritated. It's easier to live with slower overall than it is to live with faster overall, but much slower at times. That will stand out like a sore thumb, and be a source of irritation.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (2)

somersault (912633) | about a year ago | (#44509835)

As long as the most regularly libraries and executables are cached, it shouldn't seem slow.. for other files, you only need to wait when they're opened initially. I don't even really notice when I open documents over a wi-fi link, so I don't see why opening documents from a 5,400RPM HDD should be much worse.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (0, Flamebait)

lightknight (213164) | about a year ago | (#44509989)

In other words...if you are conditioned to using a 5400 RPM HD, then the spinup / access times seem normal to you. If you've had better, and for only a few dollars difference (7200 RPM) or more (SSD), then it's the difference between getting something done, then getting your morning coffee, versus making a doughnut run, as your machine will still be loading up the desktop by the time you get back.

The thing is...while you may be conditioned, as well as others, to believe this slow access time is 'normal'...the rest of the world, that has upgraded, will just continue on without you. It took your sales guys 15 minutes to log into their desktops...my guys logged in in 3 minutes, and are already making their second or third calls. My guys have the potential to do a little more volume, in the same time, than your guys...and the cost to my business would be minimal (who cares about saving $80, when the sales guy is bring in a contract worth many times that amount, even accounting for costs?).

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (1)

rullywowr (1831632) | about a year ago | (#44510021)

As long as the most regularly libraries and executables are cached, it shouldn't seem slow.. for other files, you only need to wait when they're opened initially. I don't even really notice when I open documents over a wi-fi link, so I don't see why opening documents from a 5,400RPM HDD should be much worse.

With that logic, we should all go back to 56k modems because its only slow the first time you load the webpage...right?

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44510147)

For static pages, yes, that's basically true. The difference here is that the vast majority of files on your PC are static with relatively few files changing regularly. Web pages usually have a fair bit of dynamic content that changes every time you view the page (not to mention streaming media). Obviously it's not true of everyone, but we're talking about *most* people; *most* people rely on streaming/web for a good majority of what used to require large files.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44510171)

Not really, you're talking about the difference between a couple seconds and 10-15 minutes.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (2)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#44510023)

You're assuming that "opening documents" is the bottleneck where people can get irritated. It isn't. It's more likely to be when you need to do some large operations. For a home user, that might be scanning an MP3 collection or several thousand photos. Or copying something big from a thumbdrive.
For an office user, that might be when IT runs an AV or compliance scan, or your VM saves a snapshot, or you archive Outlook.

In either case, it's the worst case times that irritate users. Not the normal opening of documents.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44510211)

You're assuming that most people do that anymore. I'm the only one in my circle of friends who still maintains an mp3 collection (which is on a file server anyway). Everyone else either stores the files on their phone/mp3 player or, more commonly, streams the media. Likewise with photos, most people store them online now. Besides, how often do you actually look at those photos? We're talking everyday usage, not Aunt-Bertha-Is-In-Town-For-Her-Yearly-Visit usage. Likewise for an office user, any competent IT department is hopefully running performance-damaging scans during off-peak hours and relatively few people run VMs from a laptop. The key here is *most* people, not *every* person.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (1)

somersault (912633) | about a year ago | (#44510245)

For things where you're going to have to wait a few minutes anyway, an extra few minutes isn't really an issue as you'd already be going to get a coffee or check Slashdot or whatever. If it's on the order of seconds, then waiting a few extra seconds isn't a big deal either. Well, that's my preference anyway, maybe yours is different..

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44510121)

My laptop is now 7 years old. In that time, I've made three major upgrades to it.

1) Moving from XP Pro to Win 7 Ultimate
2) Upgrading from a 5400rpm to a 7200rpm drive (only other major difference between drives was capacity)
3) Upgrading from 1GB RAM to 2.5GB RAM

As far as day-to-day performance goes, the hard drive upgrade made the most noticeable difference. The RAM upgrade is great for the relatively rare moments that I have a lot of stuff open on my laptop (it's not my primary computer) and Windows 7 certainly sped things up overall, but not as much as the HDD upgrade.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44510267)

Get an SSD. You'll be surprised.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year ago | (#44510279)

You weren't dealing with 500GB platters in the 7 year old 5400RPM drive. Not quite apples to apples. But Seagate going with an SSD portion that's barely bigger than today's RAM upgrades seems silly.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (2)

rullywowr (1831632) | about a year ago | (#44510001)

What's also certain is that with hybrid drives you get the slow read speed of a 5400 rpm, the mechanical disadvantage of a fragile rotating platter, and the catastrophic (read: total) data loss when SSD's fail.

No thanks. The money savings vs. buying a true SSD is not worth the extra complexity, slower read times, and potential for failure. If I am going to accept the risk of a SSD failure, it better be fast - through and through!

I can't wait until flash memory becomes so inexpensive that it becomes standard to have built in RAID arrays for redundancy and speed right in the HDD itself.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#44510259)

Having RAID on the drive itself mostly defeats the purpose of RAID (excepting RAID 0, but even that has issues with this approach). RAID is best for combating downtime due to hardware failure. By sticking both "disks" of a RAID-1 on one drive, you have no recourse if one of those "disks" fails. You can't swap out half a drive to let it rebuild on a good 'disk'.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year ago | (#44510085)

What's certain is that the worst case times will increase, and that's when people get irritated.

No. Most will just think "Windows is slow again." Or maybe "Damn antivirus."

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44510183)

Or that Windows just set the drive into PIO mode because of one too many UDMA errors. Even when the disk itself is perfectly fine.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44509733)

No chance this is just the company saying this because they missed the boat on solid state drives?

Given that Seagate makes HDDs and has little or no Flash fabrication capacity, they were obviously going to include an HDD in the plan (and, given the price, so will a lot of buyers). They don't have an obvious bias (other than a general desire for 'less, because that keeps costs low') in terms of how much NAND cache is needed to see meaningful improvements.

I'd be inclined to distrust flimflam to the effect that 'Sure, hard drives are just as good as SSDs!'; but have no particular reason to doubt that 8GB, rather than 4, or 12, or 16, or 5, or 32, is the approximate amount of flash needed, if that is what they report.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44509909)

You don't make sense. They're reporting the approximate amount of flash needed for the hard drives to become just as good as SSDs, so if you don't believe that the end goal is possible, then you shouldn't believe how they propose to reach it, unless they report putting 2T of flash in a 2T hard drive.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (1)

lightknight (213164) | about a year ago | (#44510093)

Their approximation is taken from a dark place...located below the belt line.

In other words, that number is crap. It's shows a divine lack of future planning for capacity...and a stoic belief that, contrary to all historical evidence, applications and operating systems will not continue to grow in size. Assuming a ROI of at least 3 years, perhaps 5 years for some machines...you're looking at at least one major OS upgrade, possibly two, which tend be larger with each iteration; additionally, individual applications are likely to undergo new versions, which will add new features, requiring more space.

But more importantly, the cost difference between adding a SSD, or SSD + second HD combo, to any machine, is rather minimal. It's so trivial, provided you buy from the right suppliers, and your business is not on the chopping block, that it warrants not further discussion.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44510265)

I have the suspicion that Seagate is planning quite specifically; but just don't care all that much.

The majority of orders will, presumably, be from OEMs looking to stuff HDD slots on the cheap, while still complying with the Win8 hardware certification requirements [microsoft.com] (most notably, resume in under 2 seconds) and possibly Intel's "ultrabook" requirements, which have their own I/O demands.

I suspect that Seagate's calculations of 'How cheaply can we build a drive that will satisfy the letter of the requirements that our customers need to meet?" were made with care, and aren't crap at all. They're just something of a lie if you expect that level of performance to be maintained under more stressful loads.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (0)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44509803)

call me when SSD drives come in 1TB sizes and are affordable

my macbook HD died and i bought one of these seagate drives with 8GB flash for the 1TB model. $130 including tax at newegg and best buy.
nice speed difference too. SSD is faster but i don't really care since most of my computing is done on my iphone and ipad

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | about a year ago | (#44510043)

Very few people need 1TB on a laptop. Have a large external disk at home, and a smaller SSD in the laptop.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44510101)

This. Keep most of your data on a nice big RAID array, that gets backups each night. Let the laptop have an nice fast SSD.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44510201)

Uh huh. So where do I store all my steam games, video files that I like to work on, etc.?

On my NAS you say? Sweet, now if I could only get good speeds across that VPN link to my house from the airport or my hotel, or killing time in an unused training room on my break.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (2)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44510233)

I don't agree with that. I like to have the ability to back up my data on the laptop. Now, granted it's not a true back up as you're still risking a disk failure, but for the more common things like fat fingering and filesystem corruption, it's perfectly fine.

Also, of that 1TB disk, you really only get to use about 750GB or so of it, when you factor in for the different units, leaving the 20% free and leaving space to restore things. Then when you account for the back up space, you're probably talking about only 250GB or so of space.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (1)

lightknight (213164) | about a year ago | (#44510129)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148696

960GB SSD...not quite 1TB, but close enough. And all for $600, provided you can find a place that can keep them in stock.

And for someone sporting a MacBook, iPhone, and iPad, I don't think the price will exactly send you into sticker shock.

Re:Of course! And you never need more than 640K RA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44509925)

I'm sure their claims are completely accurate.

However you have to look at the qualifiers. They've determined that 8gb is enough for office work with non-data centric applications.

In other words, if you don't need an SSD than a hybrid with an 8GB cache will do. Which should have been pretty obvious.

I question their research. (0)

khasim (1285) | about a year ago | (#44509931)

... normal office computers, not running data-centric applications, access just 9.58GB of unique data per day.

Round up to 10GB. So in 2 weeks (10 working days) that's an additional 100GB stored locally.

In 20 weeks you've filled up a 1TB drive.

What kind of office (aside from video production) works like that? The ones I know of, most of the machines are used to check email, do data entry on one or two database apps, surf, maybe create some documents or spreadsheets which are then stored on the file server. Other than the database apps, that's less than a couple of megabytes per person per day. And other than temp files, NONE of it should be stored on the local machine.

And if your average user is caching 10GB of temp files then you have a problem with your apps.

Re:I question their research. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44509995)

Unique data does not mean new data.
Also by using an SSD you can put less RAM in machines. Sure this will kill the SSD, but not in the short time people keep office computers.

Re:I question their research. (1)

shabble (90296) | about a year ago | (#44510135)

... normal office computers, not running data-centric applications, access just 9.58GB of unique data per day.

Round up to 10GB. So in 2 weeks (10 working days) that's an additional 100GB stored locally.

In 20 weeks you've filled up a 1TB drive.

What kind of office (aside from video production) works like that? The ones I know of, most of the machines are used to check email, do data entry on one or two database apps, surf, maybe create some documents or spreadsheets which are then stored on the file server. Other than the database apps, that's less than a couple of megabytes per person per day. And other than temp files, NONE of it should be stored on the local machine.

And if your average user is caching 10GB of temp files then you have a problem with your apps.

I rather suspect that "data" includes stuff like the binaries that make up the operating system and programs that are being used, and simply isn't just documents, temp files etc. that those programs are working with.

What about games (3, Insightful)

Noughmad (1044096) | about a year ago | (#44509643)

The games I download from Steam are around 5GB each. So if I try playing two games in one day, only the first one will load quickly?

Re:What about games (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44509705)

It says "office computer", so that's likely not inclusive to you, unless you work at EA.

Re:What about games (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44510035)

I truly doubt that anyone working at EA plays their games.

Re:What about games (1)

lightknight (213164) | about a year ago | (#44510155)

"Office Computer" = Windows, IE, and Office. Anything additional, however minimal, might be considered a non-Office Computer.

Re:What about games (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44509721)

Were you using a spinning disk now? Generally as soon as you say "game" it means you are probably not using "normal office computers" and can safely ignore spinning drives altogether.

Re:What about games (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about a year ago | (#44509941)

Yep, they mean Browser, Excel/Word, Outlook, etc...
Same reason why most office computers don't have 16GB of RAM; while gaming rigs do.

Re:What about games (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44509769)

It's a complicated question. It depends on which parts of the game data the drive decides to store in the flash memory. Maybe it's based on "recent popularity" of HDD sectors. In that case it might mean that the levels which you are currently churning through in both games might reside in the flash cache, meaning that both of the games would start up quickly. However if both games actually go through all the data during a session, then there will be some occasional slowdowns in either one or both of the games. But we would need to know the actual behavior of the drive to know all this for sure.

Re:What about games (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44509779)

The article says laptop drives, so it's not exactly the most convincing of arguments here that gamers are what they have in mind. Gamers aren't exactly the target market.

Re:What about games (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#44509827)

The first time you load each game, it will load slowly.

If you close and reload a game, it will load quickly.

If you close a game, load another game, then load the first game it will load slowly again.

Re:What about games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44509839)

You're probably not accessing the full 5gb of game content in a single sitting though, are you?

Re:What about games (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | about a year ago | (#44509993)

Depends on the game. RPG's, probably not. Strategy? All of it at once.

Re:What about games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44509847)

Considering nowadays most games are being built for a console, they are (hopefully) programmed in an attempt to deal with much worse access times of optical media. Thus, unless your game never reached consoles, it probably runs just fine.

I know I've played many games released even this year on a boring 7200 RPM drive and very rarely even notice it as an issue. Even a slight improvement in HDD times and I don't think it would be perceptible, ever.

Re:What about games (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | about a year ago | (#44509857)

No.
The point of cache is to hold the data read in memory so it can be loaded again in a fast way.
Loading things for the first time will never be faster in a hybrid drive. Never.
That's the whole point of SSDs however.

Re:What about games (1)

SailorSpork (1080153) | about a year ago | (#44510097)

What this means is that "Gamers are not normal users," and they can cost-save their standard line by going from 7200 to 5400 and charge the same, and create a new Gamer/High Performance line and charge a lot more for it, if they aren't already doing that, while eliminating the lower-tier 7200 line that was doing "good enough" for most Gamers or high end users.

In other words, if you like 7200 cheap drives, buy one now or hope that competition won't follow suit.

Re:What about games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44510173)

Neither will load quickly if you alternate. If you quit and restart the same game that one will load quickly though. Same applies to RAM cache.

7200rpm laptop drives? (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44509649)

I seldom see one. Seems pretty lame as a promise. Stop making 7200 RPM desktop drives, and I'll find the claims made here to be a bit more of a confidence indicator.

Re:7200rpm laptop drives? (1)

lightknight (213164) | about a year ago | (#44510197)

Nonsense...I standardize on them. Got a 1TB HGST 7200 RPM HD, paired up with the 240GB Corsair SSD. Granted, I am deeply interested in why my HD is operating in SATA-II mode instead of SATA-III, but the capacity / speed does seem somewhere near reported.

I'd rather have ... (2, Insightful)

Skapare (16644) | about a year ago | (#44509651)

... all solid state in my laptop. I hate hybrids.

What about energy use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44509655)

I guess a 5400 spins down regularly, but you know, do these things go in portable devices?
Seems to me they'll be ssd'ing for the most part into the future.

Hybrid drives on Linux? (1, Interesting)

Mike Hicks (244) | about a year ago | (#44509675)

Are hybrid drives working well on Linux yet? Last I checked, support for hybrid SSDs was still in its infancy.

Re:Hybrid drives on Linux? (5, Insightful)

fnj (64210) | about a year ago | (#44509825)

SSHDs as implemented by Seagate do not require any support whatsoever in the host. Their caching algorithm does not care anything about the FS. It is block level. I have one working just fine in arch linux. Linux just sees it as any other HD, only it is much faster overall. Obviously you will never see any improvement at all in huge file copies.

WD has some lame Windows-only SSHD tech that does require special software on the host.

Re:Hybrid drives on Linux? (1)

walshy007 (906710) | about a year ago | (#44509887)

While it is true that seagate does hybrids at the block level so it is transparent, linux hit some bugs in the hard drives firmware that windows did not quite some time ago, and the results weren't so pretty. That was a few years ago though hopefully they have it sorted by now.

seagate research suggest seagate bargains are good (3, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44509683)

seagate research suggest seagate bargains are good! how amazing!

hybrid drives blow, I guess better than nothing but no comparison to ssd. that 8 gigs isn't the same every day or if it is then the machine is acting pretty much just as a terminal and not moving media around etc(yes there was a time I could get by with a 3.2gbyte fireball, but that was long ago now).

excuse me as I go to do a simple drag'n'drop to my bigger hd drive. hybirds would be nice, IF they slapped 128gbytes+2tbytes on it and somehow it understood that there's no need to move the video file I'm viewing to the the ssd portion ever.

just playing two different games would outrun 8gbyte ssd portion... heck, max payne 3 was something like 30 gigs and one session of gaming probably accesses 8 gigs easily and it would be nice to have the os on the ssd portion..

Re:seagate research suggest seagate bargains are g (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44509865)

If you're playing Max Payne on an office computer... lol

640K (1)

clinko (232501) | about a year ago | (#44509707)

"640K software is all the memory anybody would ever need on a computer." - Bill Gates (Not Really: http://www.wired.com/politics/law/news/1997/01/1484 [wired.com] )

Re:640K (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44509813)

Nobody ever said Bill Gates ever said that. The assertion was that he said that at the time that 640k ought to be enough for anyone. He has since avidly denied ever saying anything of the sort, but there is still some debate if anyone cares. [quoteinvestigator.com]

Damn (4, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | about a year ago | (#44509727)

This looks like Seagate desperately clinging to their old bastion. Even Western Digital bit the bullet and started working on pure SSDs. The problem with Seagate's calculations is that there'll come a time (not that far into the future) where NAND will be cheap enough to get a full SSD for only a moderate price hike over a HDD, all while getting all the benefits of a pure SSD drive. They risk getting left behind by clinging to the hybrid drive idea.

Re:Damn (4, Insightful)

adisakp (705706) | about a year ago | (#44510079)

Hybrids aren't that bad an idea. You can get a 3TB drive for just over $100. HD Data is $0.03-$0.05 / GB. SSD's are still in the $0.80-$1.50 / GB range. That's a factor of 50X more expensive. You can't even buy a single 3TB consumer SSD and three 1TB SSD's will cost you around $2000 plus eat up half your SATA ports.

Although I do disagree on one point -- if a consumer uses ~10GB of data a day, I would overshoot and put in 16GB rather than 8GB in a Hybrid Drive -- it's better to slightly overprovision and almost never hit the platter part of the storage than to under provision and force yourself to the slower backstore. Plus the difference should only be less than $10 more for the drive.

One problem though with hybrid drives is they aren't necessarily faster than intelligent software caching to SSD's or of using a hardware controller (with possible software assist) that supports caching data from a HDD to a SSD (such as Intel Smart Response SSD Caching which has been on Motherboards since 2011).

Re:Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44510239)

Yes, "some time in the future."

There are a couple of things that stop me from replacing my pair of 500GB platter drives in my home machine with dual SSDs:

1) Questionable MTBF of SSDs. I'm not interested in having to replace my SSDs every few years due to write wear. This could be exacerbated by my setup: if my host OS can't punch through the RAID abstraction to see the SSDs, I won't get TRIM support and get much less active life from those SSDs.

2) Price per gigabyte: SSDs are ~ $1 / GB. Platters are $0.10/GB, maybe less.

For the majority of my use cases, a platter drive with integrated NAND flash cache would be a perfect upgrade for me right now - it addresses cost per gigabyte and the firmware should be intelligent enough to do proper wear leveling on the cache. If RRAM ever comes to fruition, that seems like a better deal, so I don't see the need to waste money on an SSD if RRAM devices are on the horizon.

Moving parts and fatigue (4, Interesting)

barlevg (2111272) | about a year ago | (#44509747)

Honest question: how do hybrid drives compare to traditional HDDs when it comes to wear? To they tend to fail more (less) often / die faster (live longer) than traditional drives? What about pure SSDs?

Re:Moving parts and fatigue (3, Interesting)

obarthelemy (160321) | about a year ago | (#44509833)

Last time I checked, there was no lifespan issue for SSDs (I think it was 33 years at 10GB/day). Even bug issues seem to have been dealt with, I haven't heard any of the once-frequent OCZ horror stories (bricked SSD) in a while. I'd assume hybrid drives to be just as good as pure HDDs, actually a bit better since the SSD part will save wear and tear on the HDD part. Bugs notwithstanding.

Re:Moving parts and fatigue (4, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | about a year ago | (#44510123)

The lifespan issue with SSDs has three main factors.

1: Type of flash memory (SLC, MLC, TLC, in order of decreasing durability)
2: Size of the flash drive (larger drives have more room for wear leveling algorithms to work with, thus staving off flash cell burnouts due to exceeding maximum number of writes).
3: The amount of throughput on the flash drive. An expected heavy load is roughly 10GB/day. Doubling the load halves the lifetime of the drive. Quadrupling the load quarters it.

Granted, the cache on a Hybrid is being used a bit differently than how you would use a straight SSD. But, with such a small cache drive, you ARE going to wind up cooking it after a relatively brief period of time.

Re:Moving parts and fatigue (3, Informative)

rullywowr (1831632) | about a year ago | (#44510059)

The main issue is that if a traditional HDD fails, there is a small chance for data recovery. There also may be a short period where you can catch the drive "on it's way out." When a SSD fails, it often fails spectacularly...often "bricking" the entire drive or corrupting the entire contents.

Shenanigans! What about NAND life expectancy? (1)

Chas (5144) | about a year ago | (#44509755)

Yeah. That's great.

Until you burn through that dinky little 8GB due to heavy read/write.

Then what? You now have a 5400 rpm hard drive.

Re:Shenanigans! What about NAND life expectancy? (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about a year ago | (#44510061)

Probably worse: you have a 5400rpm non-functional drive. I very much doubt they've integrated a failsafe which bypasses the NAND cache if it gets exhausted. More likely the performance will worsen as the healthy NAND decreases in size until it's zero.

Been doing something a LOT like that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44509763)

Since 1992 or so, 1st using separate HDDs (slower seek/access by FAR) & then using software ramdisks per the list below (on a MS-DDK based one I wrote in fact, on how I apply them):

Then applying Software-Based Ramdrives to database work with EEC Systems/SuperSpeed.com on paid contract (which did me VERY WELL @ both Windows IT Pro magazine in reviews, & also MS TechEd 2000-2002 in its hardest category: SQLServer Performance Enhancement & SuperSpeed.com too - since I improved their wares efficacy by up to 40% via programmatic control & tuning programs for them) - which, only the past few years now it seems, OTHERS are finally "latching onto" for performance purposes in database work in industrial environs! The EEC/SuperSpeed.com unit had 1 great thing going for it - mirroring back to HDD to save state of data!)

I move the following off my wd Velociraptor sata II 10,000 rpm 16mb buffered harddisks that are driven off a Promise Ex-8350 128mb ECC ram caching raid sata 1/2 controller (which defers/delays writes via said cache, & also lessens physical head movement on disks & this is where I am going to make it even faster via lessening its workloads, read on & reduces fragmentation as well in the same stroke - "bonus") onto my 4gb DDR2 Gigabyte IRAM PCIExpress ramdisk card:

A.) Pagefile.sys (partition #1 1gb size, rest is on 3gb partition next - this I didn't do on SSD though)
B.) OS & App level logging (EventLogs + App Logging)
C.) WebBrowser caches, histories, sessions & browsers too
D.) Print Spooling
E.) %Temp% ops (OS & user level temp ops environmental variable values alterations)
F.) %Tmp% ops (OS & user level temp ops environmental variable values alterations)
G.) %Comspec% (command interpreter location, cmd.exe in this case, & in DOS/Win9x years before, command.com also)
H.) Lastly - I also place my custom hosts file onto it, via redirecting where it's referenced by the OS, here in the registry (for performance AND security):

HKLM\system\CurrentControlSet\services\Tcpip\Parameters

(Specifically altering the "DataBasePath" parameter there which also acts more-or-less, like a *NIX shadow password system also!)

* All of which lessen the amount of work my "main" OS & programs slower mechanical hard disks have to do, "speeding them up" by lessening their workload, fragmentation, and speeding up access/seek latency for the things in the list above too.

APK

P.S.=> HDD's concentrate on program &/or data fetches that are still hdd bound (& not kernelmode diskcaching subsystem cached in 4gb of DDR3 system ram here either yet) done on a media that has no heads to move, & thus, more mechanical latency + slower seek/access as you get on hard disks + reduced filesystem fragmentations due to that all, also & it works!

... apk

Small correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44509869)

"A.) Pagefile.sys (partition #1 1gb size, rest is on 3gb partition next - this I didn't do on SSD though)" -

CORRECTION = "this I didn't do on software-based ramdrives though"

* :)

Only reason? I didn't have enough excess RAM in my systems to pull it off is why! That was the ONLY reason along with the fact that the 1st DDK based RamDrive software I used, was my own:

http://www.google.com/#bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&fp=4b498971aefdff90&psj=1&q=%22APK+RamDisk%22 [google.com]

(Was limited - Fat 12 floppy filesystem 32mb size limited iirc & that's what you have to redo/overcome to create "unlimited size" ones, especially in today's 64-bit environs being predominant)...

However - it CAN be done though, via EEC systems/SuperSpeed.com (& now certainly with 64-bit software ramdrives as well) or others that used MS Windows bootup RAM range exclusions (provided you have TON of ram that is to start with).

I prefer doing pagefiles on my Gigabyte IRAM (just as I did on CENATEK's rocketdrive for years before it), to offset seek/access being slower on HDD's, less fragmentations of the HDD's filesystems, & also of course, separated from HDD's creates less "head movements" for paging too... it works.

APK

P.S.=> Need more "consciousness fuel" today I think (coffee)...

... apk

But their 5400RPM hybrid drives suck (3, Interesting)

SirDrinksAlot (226001) | about a year ago | (#44509789)

When I was buying a new laptop hard drive I got a hybrid drive but not before some research. The 7200RPM Momentus XT mops the floor with their 5400rpm new generation of hybrid drive. The performance increase on their 5400rpm drives is insignificant, it was not even worth considering but I at least found stock of the Momentus XT which *IS* well worth considering and ordered TWO. I took into account cost, capacity and performance when choosing the drives. For the cost/performance the 5400rpm drives did not deliver but it had the capacity, the Momentus XT delivered on cost/performance and was only slightly lacking in capacity. Pure SSD drive only delivered on performance which in my case wasn't weighted enough in my process to justify. If the Momentus XT didn't exist I'd have just stuck with a 7200rpm drive.

So RIP Seagate's worth while mobile HDD's. Unless you've fixed the mediocre performance in your 5400rpm drives I'll either be doing full SSD or just buying somebody else's 7200rpm drive.

RAM cache? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#44509801)

Why bother adding 8 gig of solid state storage to your hard disk when you could just add 8 gigs of RAM and use that for disk cache?

Re:RAM cache? (2)

hattig (47930) | about a year ago | (#44509919)

Not much use if half of the 8 gig is used for storing system files that are accessed on a reboot / cold boot that wipes the RAM.

Also 8GB of NAND probably costs $4, which is a lot less than 8GB of RAM.

Re:RAM cache? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44509927)

The correct theoretical answer would be: Fast persistent writes. But in reality, OS's disk caches probably suck so much that the HDD manufacturers can build a faster cache even for read-only usage.

Software caches "flush" via FIFO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44510011)

Due to 'memory pressure' that "forces the hand" of their aging algorithm(s) alongside the kernelmode memory mgt. subsystem(s) might be why, under such circumstances in their "queue-like" design. I.E.-> When an app demands a large section of RAM, & then actually WRITES it can cause that. Hardware 'caches' (@ least how I use them -> http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4068409&cid=44509763 [slashdot.org] ), don't. So, I used the technique(s) noted in that link instead to 'offload', & speedup (by lessening the HDD fragmentations + workload) my HDD's, hardware cached too (for deferred writes mostly) notwithstanding.

APK

P.S.=> Imo @ least: Seagate doing this "boosting of cachesize" on HDD's, especially if they're ones with intelligent aging algorithms (vs. dumb buffers only) is a good idea that'll probably work well for performance, & keep std mechanical disks around a while longer (vs. SSD) - imo, HDD's will eventually become backup devices (for reliability keeping state, & making them FASTER for that certainly doesn't hurt either, by doing what Seagate's up to)... apk

Re:RAM cache? (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year ago | (#44510107)

RAM cache is useless for speeding up writes. A significant (although workload-dependent) part of the performance problem with spinning disks is that if you issue a write and then need to block until it's on disk (which you need for consistency), it can easily take 5-10ms (or more) and that severely limits the performance. Often, non-server workloads include doing a lot of small synchronous writes and then no writes for a while. An SSD as a write-through cache works well here because it can reorder a lot of writes to turn (some of) them into sequential writes and it can trickle out a lot of writes while the disk is idle. This is also pretty much the best case for flash longevity: you don't need wear levelling, because you just treat the entire flash as a ring buffer and write to one end and write to the disk from the other end. You can keep the translation layer in RAM, and if there's a power failure you just replay the entire flash journal onto the disk.

The 'only reads 8GB' of unique data per day number is meaningless as an indication of how often each thing is used, however. If each day you always access the same 8GB, then an 8GB cache will be perfect for you. If you always access 8GB a day and you only access 7.5GB of it once, then a 512MB cache will be fine and you'll get no benefit from more, but you will get a big benefit from having a faster underlying storage device.

Re:RAM cache? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44510117)

Won't help write/fsync performance, won't survive reboots, won't reduce boot time.

Re: RAM cache? (1)

Traciatim (1856872) | about a year ago | (#44510133)

Power to the drive is cut in sleep states and power downs. How would that help make your machine feel snappy? Sure SRT and hybrid drives are slower than a pure SSD, but in cases where cost and capacity and physical space are a concern they each have their place. Would you rather boot in 9 seconds and have 120gb, 10 seconds with 1tb, or 45 seconds with 1tb and save a litle cash. Personally, on my desktop I use a 60gb+1tb SRT and a second 1tb spinning disk for data I want to keep semi-safe from a drive failure. When I first built the machine I timed my boot times between the SSD straight up and SRT and I couldn't even detect a difference with a stop watch. Plus I don't have to worry about space management. Caching works, and fairly well. I'm not sure about their claim of 8gb being enough, but for a general purpose office machine I'm sure it works wonders to make the machine feel responsive.

Not in my experience (4, Informative)

swb (14022) | about a year ago | (#44509809)

I had a Seagate Momentus XT (750 GB hybrid) and I replaced it with a Samsung 750 GB SSD. The pure SSD solution is noticeably faster in all respects, especially in boot up, and this is with a machine now using Truecrypt whole disk encyption (wasn't using it on the Momentus).

The Momentus was a good upgrade until SSDs in the size I wanted were reasonably priced, but performance wise it isn't in the same league as a SSD.

The hybrid SSD solution really shows its weakness when you deviate from "normal" behavior, and this can be anything from an application upgrade, running Windows updates, or accessing stuff you don't use that much. Performance just seems back to dismal levels and I suspect that it takes a while for the cache to re-optimize if the deviating disk activity is at all intensive.

I think the hybrid concept is interesting, but I think you need more cache and a way to optimize the cache not just not most recently accessed blocks but for the operating system and applications in use, too.

Not that I care anyway. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44509829)

I'd never buy a Seagate hard drive ever.

Every single one of them has failed horribly. Every single person I have known has had them fail horribly on them.
But never the same for any other drive from any other company.
The company can die for all I care. Scrubs of the industry.

Re:Not that I care anyway. (1)

SkunkPussy (85271) | about a year ago | (#44510213)

Yeah their tech support guys strongly suggested they would charge me if I sent my hard discs back under warranty so I said screw them and have avoided them since. If they are not getting into the ssd market proper it suits me as I'll mainly only buy SSDs from now on.

Wrong choice (1)

rgmoore (133276) | about a year ago | (#44509883)

Yeah, but typical office PCs are already plenty fast for the things they typically do, so they aren't in need of a big boost. That's why PC manufacturers have been concentrating on making them smaller and cheaper rather than more powerful. It's those data sensitive applications that are atypical of office PCs that are the market for high performance drives.

Besides, if you only need 9.5 GB of unique data per day, you're probably better off upgrading your RAM rather than your hard drive. The stuff you access most will get cached, and you'll have plenty of memory on the odd chance you ever do need to do something that requires a lot.

Re:Wrong choice (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44510087)

If you only need 9.5GB you should get a small SSD. RAM only helps once you fill the cache. RAM is never going to give you the performance you get from an SSD.

Redefine "hybrid" for the 21st Century (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about a year ago | (#44509955)

It seems that the word "hybrid" is being redefined in common use. It is now being used to combine one old outdated thing that needs to be put out to pasture with a new state-of-the-art idea.

Re:Redefine "hybrid" for the 21st Century (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44510017)

You're an idiot.

"Just?" (1)

tocsy (2489832) | about a year ago | (#44509967)

Man, tell me I'm not the only one who still remembers a time when 8 Gb of RAM was a REALLY big deal. I still only have 8 Gb in my gaming computer and 6 in my laptop. Maybe I'm just old.

Re:"Just?" (2)

Arker (91948) | about a year ago | (#44509979)

My first computer had 4kb of ram. Get off my lawn ;)

Re:"Just?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44510131)

Timex Sinclair ftw! Oh wait! Did I just press 2 keys at once? doh!

Size is key to the rollover, not speed. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44510041)

It isn't just the convenience and speed of solid-state. It's that it's more than enough space for most people. Unless you have hundred of movies, you have plenty for your needs.

If it wasn't in that range, it would still be just a novelty for bleeding edge users or some server applications.

Nice idea in theory but I wonder about practice (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about a year ago | (#44510077)

I have the following concerns with hybrid drives.

1: After a new build or reimage (remember they are talking about office users here and offices do reimage from time to time) how long will it take the system to settle down and work out what should be on hdd and what should be on flash. There is obviously a compromise here between speed of adapting to a changed usage pattern and wear on the flash.
2: what will happen with writes? large SSDs spread them over a large area of flash to get decent life. Will writes be forced to the hard drive or will they rapidly wear the small ammount of flash.
3: for the ammount of storage a typical office user needs will they really be all that much cheaper than just fitting a SSD and avoiding the fragility of a mechanical hard drive and the unpredictability of a caching soloution.

Flash drives are cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44510109)

i just saw a SanDisk Cruzer 32 GB USB Flash Drive for $20 USD. I have most of my photos on an 8 GB thumb drive. oh wait, this article is talking about hybrid drives. nevermind. Windows 8 and some office programs will barely fit on a 32 GB flash drive anyways.

Hard drives are increasingly.. (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | about a year ago | (#44510191)

.... too slow to do backups with if you have any sizable amount of data at all. Mirroring SSD's saves huge amount of time in cost and fiddling in terms of backing up important data.

Hard drives are really for huge libraries of stuff you want to keep but dont use often and dont mind slow backups on because they are of lower relative importance (movies, games ,etc).

Just buy more RAM (1)

seyfarth (323827) | about a year ago | (#44510263)

My suggestion is to simply buy more RAM. With 16 GB of RAM there are 10 GB for disk cache and 6 GB for everything else. This sounds like it matches Seagate's usage pattern pretty well. It should be cheaper and RAM can be written endlessly, so it should be more reliable. The only downside is it must refill its cache if you reboot. Gamers might opt for 32 GB if they can find a system with that much.

Results replicated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44510271)

Have the results been independently replicated? Were details of the benchmarking methodology published anywhere?

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