Hybrid hard drive works without Windows

Data can be read even when computer is switched off

New FlashMate hybrid hard drive technology has been introduced that allows data to be read, even when the computer is switched off.

This enables notebook users to access content on the hard disk drive, without having to power on the computer, in order for example to listen to MP3 files, view digital pictures, access email, etc.

The technology has been developed by SST (Silicon Storage Technology), a flash memory technology business, and Insyde Software, a provider of UEFI-based firmware, BIOS and engineering services.

FlashMate combines hardware, firmware and software in a system application subsystem that manages a notebook computer's hard drive. It is based on SST's expertise in NAND flash controllers and memory subsystem design with Insyde Software's expertise in PC BIOS, system software and power management.

FlashMate can work in conjunction with features such as Windows Vista ReadyDrive and serve as nonvolatile cache for the hard disk drive, thus enabling a standard hard disk drive to function as a hybrid drive.

Hybrid drives feature a hard disk drive accompanied by a NAND flash drive acting as a data cache. By using the NAND flash memory buffer when the system is active, the notebook's hard drive is rarely engaged, leading to better hard drive reliability, reduced power consumption, increased performance, and faster boot and resume times.

FlashMate does more by giving notebook users the ability to access to hard disk data and various applications via the notebook's USB interface, without actually having to engage the CPU.

Bing Yeh, SST's president and CEO, said: "Current hybrid-drive products available on the market, either as nonvolatile cache embedded in the hard disk drive or integrated on the motherboard, have enhanced some of the capabilities of notebook computers, but these solutions only scratch the surface of what is possible."

"Our FlashMate technology expands beyond hybrid-drive functionality by enabling notebook users to conveniently perform tasks without having to turn on the computer, such as transferring files from an external memory, getting contact information from an Outlook address book, listening to MP3 music or checking flight arrival times."

This provides faster and more convenient access to data because the notebook computer does not have to go through a lengthy boot process.

The first series of products featuring FlashMate technology are scheduled to be available from SST in the second quarter of 2008. The two companies are working with notebook computer manufacturers to have FlashMate technology designed into their products as an embedded application.

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