Seagate invents new type of laptop hard drive

Crosses SSD with hard disk for faster booting

Seagate is having a second crack at SSD hybrid hard drives, a technology for boosting drive performance by adding flash memory to a conventional hard drive.

The company has launched the new 2.5 inch Momentus XT, a hybrid HDD and flash design that follows on from Seagate's first foray into the concept nearly three years ago, the Momentus 5400 PSD, which sank without trace.

The company now admits that the 5400 PSD's performance just wasn't good enough but is confident that the new Momentus XT will overcome the earlier drive's shortcomings.

The technical spec suggests that this time Seagate might be on to something.

Unlike the PSD, the Momentus XT can work with any operating system and BIOS (the PSD was Windows Vista-specific), and the amount of onboard SLC NAND flash memory has increased to 4GB from the older design's 256MB. The drive also features 32MB of level one drive cache and a faster spin speed of 7,200rpm.

The benefits of the SSD flash are faster boot times and for more rapid access to commonly-used application executables, but how does it actually know what to put into the SSD cache and what to leave on the hard disk?

According to Seagate, the first time the drive is started in a laptop, it goes into 'learning' mode that resembles the performance of a conventional drive. By the second boot, the onboard adaptive memory algorithms have worked out which OS and app files it needs to store to boot more rapidly and from that point on users will see the speed ramp.

Seagate's own figures who that the drive will boot Windows 7 in 23 seconds, compared to 18 for a pure SSD and 59 seconds for an equivalent 7,200rpm 2.5 inch laptop drive without flash.

Application loading improvements vary from app to app, with iTunes ready to run in 4.8 seconds compared to 18.4 for a conventional drive, Adobe Premier Elements loading in 40.2 seconds (hybrid)compared to 50.1 (HDD), and Excel managing 9.2 seconds (hybrid) as against 11 seconds (HDD).

That said, these figures compare the new XT with a fast 7,200rpm drive when most laptops come with slower 5,400rpm drives, suggesting that the real-world performance might be more marked for the average user.

According to Seagate, the XT will allow ordinary laptop users to get most of the benefits of SSD technology, such as fast booting and application cacheing, without the prohibitive cost of a pure SSD drive.

Bare metal prices for the drive are said to be around $50 more than the same spec of drive without the hybrid design, or $113 (250GB), $132 (320GB) and $156 (500GB). At that price, many users will be tempted. The drive can also be retro-fitted to older machines without the need for special drivers of modifications of the BOS.

The Seagate Momentus XT is available from today in the Asus ROG G73JH system which features two Momentus XT drives. Shipping dates for the drive on its own have not been confirmed.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John E. Dunn

Techworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?