Solid State Hybrid Drives vs. SSD + HDD Combo vs. Flash Cache Modules

With the introduction of Seagate’s Momentus XT over a year ago, the concept of hybrid storage has gained momentum (no pun intended), and with that competition from the likes of a combined SSD & HDD configuration and flash cache modules. Hybrid has many faces begging the question what’s the difference? And, which hybrid technology will ultimately reign supreme?

First, let’s start with SSD…the basis for why we have Hybrid technology to begin with.

Seagate’s Product Marketing Manager for 2.5-inch hybrid drives (Joni Clark) puts it well, “Client SSD’s are the like Ferrari’s of storage.  Everyone wants one but few can afford them.  The other pitfall of a client SSD is that if you use it a lot it won’t last long kind of like batteries, they lose charge.  The more you write to them, the more they will lose performance, the cells will wear out and cannot hold data.  It’s just the physics of the material that they are made of.  To program or write to the SSD memory you have to apply voltage, and every time you apply voltage you wear down the oxide that hold the bit in place.  Disk drives on the other hand can be written and rewritten almost endlessly.”

SSD + HDD Combo
This configuration basically takes off the shelf SSD components and hard disk drive (HDD) components and leverages available slots in your desktop or notebook to create a pseudo hybrid solution. Once people figured out the true value prop for SSDs they started to use them accordingly as a boot device (you write to it and then read from it there after). The HDD becomes the work horse that archives all your working files. But this set up does not always work for everyone.  For example: you not only have to have a chassis that allows for two drives, but also you’re only fast on the boot or programs that live on the SSD.  Most people only boot once a day so that kind of set up doesn’t really give you overall system performance.

Flash Cache Modules
This is something we’ve been hearing a lot about lately and it’s not the first time chipset and motherboards have tried this.  You might remember Intel’s Turbo Boost that wasn’t too successful in the market around the same time as our first hybrid drive in 2007. Flash cache modules are basically a revision of the original turbo boost technology.  Certain motherboards will allow OEMs to install a small SSD as a cache and still leverage and disk drive for the work, basically automating the SSD + HDD combo scenario outlined above.  At the same time, motherboard/chipset manufacturers like Intel include a Smart Response Technology which in essence does the same thing as our Adaptive Memory Technology.    We like to think Adaptive Memory Technology is better, because you get all of the benefits from a single device – the solid state hybrid drive. And, since SSHDs don’t require a special motherboard, chipset or drivers, they are truly plug and play in any system.

So, solid state hybrid drives are:

I’m placing my bet on SSHD technology. What’s your prediction for hybrid domination?

Related Posts:

What’s the best storage money can buy?
Seagate talks hybrid technology on Computer Outlook radio
Momentus XT: must have to speed Windows 7
Momentus XT vs Momentus PSD – there’s a huge difference
Momentus XT – what the experts are saying
RAID’ng Momentus XT? Looks like a no-brainer

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