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Seagate Revives & Releases New Hybrid Hard Drive

Gordon Kelly


Seagate Revives & Releases New Hybrid Hard Drive

Here's a turn up for the books...

Almost four years have passed since Samsung mooted the idea of mixing flash memory with HDDs to create a best of both worlds fast, capacious new storage standard. Dubbed 'Hybrid Hard Drives' (HHD) it seemed to have died a limp death, until now...

Following the brief availability of Seagate's Momentus 5400 PSD and Samsung's SpinPoint MH80 back in 2007 all was quiet. Now out of the blue Seagate has announced the first high volume shipments a new Hybrid Hard Drive, the 'Momentus XT', have begun to channel partners and OEMs. The HHD combines 4GB of solid state memory with a 2.5in 7,200RPM HDD available in 250GB, 320GB and 500GB capacities.

Interestingly Seagate claims the drive - which will push boot information and commonly used files into flash - can boot "up to 100 per cent faster than traditional 5,400RPM drives". Sadly Seagate hasn't revealed the flash memory's read and write speeds to back this up and this is important since the HDD's quoted random read and write seek times are just 11ms and 13ms respectively, fairly average for a performance HDD and not a patch on the sub-1ms times of a pure SSD.

The Momentus XT is also someway off what controversial ex-Seagate CEO Bill Watkins told us to expect from HHDs back in 2008 when he said "we are looking at a Hybrid HDD where you can pin the drive and operate the boot from outside the OS, which would bring us closer to an instantaneous boot up. 15GB of the drive would be flash, but it could be up to two years {before release}." That would have been 2010.

Grumbles aside, the HHD remains a hugely promising concept and we don't disagree with Seagate executive VP Dave Mosley who proclaimed: "We see the Momentus XT drive as a game changer, a product heralding a new generation of hard drives that combine SSD and HDD capabilities so that laptop users don’t have to make trade-offs on speed, cost or capacity."

The obvious caveat is as long as Seagate can keep the price down, but with 4GB of flash costing peanuts these days there is certainly the potential for HHDs to replace HDDs and offer us an exciting new and affordable storage option...

Link: Seagate Momentus XT


May 25, 2010, 1:14 pm

Note that they compare it to a 5400rpm drive rather than a similar 7200rpm drive - the 7200rpm drive being the only useful figure as it shows the performance increase due to the flash. Additionally reviewers have already noticed that this drive is no faster with transferring large files.


May 25, 2010, 3:08 pm

Why only 4GB???? Can anyone say, 1st generation rinsing?


May 25, 2010, 6:28 pm

Wouldn't it make more sense to partition the drive so the SSD bit is used for the OS and Main Applications then HDD part used for data?


May 25, 2010, 6:39 pm

@Andy - yes I did, hence why the performance figures they do provide aren't useful.

@b166er - agreed, it's poor

@OldTimer - as b166er points out: it's just 4GB. That wouldn't be large enough to install a full version of Windows, let alone all the future service packs, etc it would require.


May 25, 2010, 7:00 pm

@Gordon, I realise that but this has to be the real benefit of such a drive (with say 8GB?)

Scott Williamson

May 25, 2010, 11:27 pm

@oldtimer - that depends, many of the OS files will hardly be used, so more frequently used items should always be stored in the SSD part, that way as well it will give the best performance at all times. I like the idea of these, hope they do perform and we see more of the tech, pure SSD's are too expensive for mere mortals.


May 27, 2010, 7:31 pm

@b166er & @Gordon

Is 4gb not plenty of space if it's used in the same way as cache is used on a standard mechanical drive?

Therefore, wouldn't the benefit of 4gb be hugely substantial? I remember when 8mb and 16mb of cache on a mechanical drive a while ago was a good improvement over the previous 4mb and 8mb drives.

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