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back to article Flash stalks Seagate's hybrid drives

Is Seagate in denial over Ultrabook solid-state storage and the rising capacities of flash drives? In an interview with magazine Barron's at CES 2012, Scott Horn, Seagate's chief marketing officer, said that many people overrate flash. He added that hybrid drives, which use a mix of flash cache and spinning disk, will be popular …

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on planet Earth, size isn't the concern

it's the cost. I'd love a 500GB SSD in my MBP but it would cost almost as much as the laptop.

a 500GB hybrid is about a tenth of the price.

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Devil

Exactly

Also, on planet Earth the platters in a hybrid drive spin _ONLY_ when necessary, not all the time. In fact, it is in a spun down state most of the time.

So the ultabook, platters, spinning, blah, blah argument is an outright piece of fud. That problem is not present (especially with hybrid drives updated to a more recent firmware build).

In any case, the size of the flash drives will _NOT_ dent Seagate's markets. The post-flood cost of platters hower will do so because the cost of the hybrid is now comparable with the flash drives. Prior to the floods a 250G hybrid momentus was priced at about the same amount of money as a low-end entry level "boot" flash drive making the decision a no brainer. Unfortunately, as a result of the floods it is now priced at the same mark as mid-tier 128G-256G drives.

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Hybrid drives are playing a price game, not a capacity game;

Right there in your own article, El Reg.

Those huge drives might be produced, but my money says that they are not produced at a cost that will make their way into an ultrabook anytime soon.

That said, I wish hybrid drives had a little more flash capacity and a distinct line between the two parts. It would be nice to drop the OS on the flash bits directly instead of hoping the preloader chip made the correct choices about what files were important.

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Do you need all that capacity?

I don't really know why you'd need more than 100GB in a mobile device. My laptop which is only a few years old only had an 80GB hard drive. Most people can easily fit their entire music collection in a fraction of the space. I guess if you had a lot of blu-ray rips you would need more, but that's a very small percentage of the market.

I would love one of those 1TB flash drives, but the price is out of reach for now. Maybe in a few years it might actually be affordable for regular punters, which means much less need for spinning disks - soon to meet the same fate as CRTs which seemed to disappear almost overnight. Hoping one of the post-flash technologies becomes commercialised and affordable.

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title

I've a 160GB drive in my laptop and I could do with more. I have it connected to a keyboard/mouse/monitor when at my desk turning it effectively into a desktop. Granted I don't need more than about 300GB but very few desktops need more than that. Bulk storage is where the size is required and then you are generally less worried about speed. My NAS is 8TB and there's no way I'm using even hybrid drives in that because it's only serving media across the network.

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I agree to a point.

I have the WD 7200rpm 320GB in my laptop shortstroked to 100GB. Works a treat. Plenty of space still.

I also agree that this doesnt fit all folks. I just dont see the need to carry my entire 'digital life' around with me. I have yet to find myself needing 278 hours of audio or the contents of Blockbuster video on the go. Very few folks want to look at my 407 holiday snaps of Canada 2008 either.

Plus if you lose that laptop......you did encrypt it didnt you? Ahhh I guess not.

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@Luke

More of a niche case but I run VMs on mine and they tend to suck up disk space. Once I replace my internal HD with a 256GB I should be set in speed terms too. I just don't want to have to hook up external storage as I don't have eSATA, Thunderbolt, or USB 3.0 for speed. I think SSDs suit portables and that's about my size limit else I end up carrying too much data that needs redundancy. The extra speed probably helps with whole disk encryption too - not checked up on it yet, but I'll do it out of the box rather than post install due to wear levelling.

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You gotta be kidding. I carry much more than 100 GB in my cargo pants pocket. I no longer bother with flash drives less than 16 GB. I look forward to when it's all 32 GB or great with USB 3.0 support. I sure as hell wants as much storage as I can get in my laptop if it isn't an ultra-lite model.

The cloud is all very well and good in concept but too much of my work puts me in situations where there is no service available. Often because I'm there to fix it or establish it for the first time.

Do I like carrying an absurd amount of stuff? You bet. I remember working with 5.25" floppies storing a whopping 88 Kilobytes per side. Everything worth mentioning ever produced for that old Atari would now fit in a fraction of a single flash drive in my pocket. I want it all. I'm the kind of guy who put a 16 GB microSD in my first gen Nook within days of getting it.

I like having my stuff and having it go where I go. A hybrid drive fulfills my needs better than an SSD at this point.

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Maybe hybrid's are more capacious, but as with any mobile gadget, the majority of any person/organisation's data could/should be elsewhere and therefore 60GB SSD's are more than enough. Added to which, they don't have mechnical parts to break, I know they park their heads in a fall, but which would you trust more?

If Seagate really want to shift some hybrid's, then perhaps they should stick 16GB in rather than the rather paltry 4GB in the Momentus XT.

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Reliability

Physical robustness is only one factor - write endurance is the other. Hard drives have been around for a long time now and most of there issues have largely been ironed out to the point they are reasonably trustworthy.

I know manufacturers CLAIM limited write endurance has been sorted, but they were claiming that years ago when we bought a dozen 32GB units for evaluation. Those weren't in anything demanding, just desktops. Four years later nine of the twelve are dead.

Whatever the manufacturers claim I'll largely be steering clear until they have a demonstrable, proven track record behind them. Yes, even (or especially) for laptops: they may be more prang-prone but they are also away from the network for periods, when they may not get backed up as often as they should.

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Anonymous Coward

SSDs have some way to go before they match the reliability of hard drives

See http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2011/05/the-hot-crazy-solid-state-drive-scale.html - an advocate of SSDs confessing that they fail - often.

In comparison, I've rarely had a hard drive fail no matter how old - and I've been using hard drives for close to 20 years by now. I have an ancient (ten years old, give or take) 80GB hard drive in a Pentium 4 Windows 98 old-games PC - it works fine. I have a 1.5TB external hard drive that was dropped around 4 feet when I caught my foot on the cable (luckily while powered off) - it works fine. I've had more USB flash sticks fail than hard disks.

In the long run, SSDs (whether flash or some other form of non-volatile memory) will beat hard disks for reliability, but we're not there yet. An SSD may already be more robust for some uses (e.g. football). But for the moment, for most people, a hard disk is the safer option.

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Windows

Like driving without safety belts

I guess an OS-supported infrastructure to detect that an SSD is a burnout and to automatically "eject it safely" and reconfigure to the harddisk instead of taking the whole machine down with it would be useful.

I would generate some interesting "BONG!" alerts.

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Meanwhile, back on planet Earth

Have you checked the price of SSDs over 120 MB? A 512MB drive costs more then the budget for a laptop around here. They would be limited to senior exec toys at that price.

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The pure SSD options are all still massively more expensive than hybrids. The price game is a perfectly good one to play until memristors come along and make SSDs dirt cheap.

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Momentus XT w/ 16G flash

where?

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Right...

Right here, sitting beneath the keyboard I am typing this on, inside my Sony Vaio...

The author is living in a dream world - there are those of us that travel, and NEED a lot of storage (if only for movies), and will never want to pay the current SSD premium - which is triple or more of the cost of the hybrid.

I don't agree with Seagate that their primary use is "ultrabooks" - but they really rock in desktop replacement laptops. When you have a 16" screen and a quad core, worrying about the battery life difference between SSDs and hybrids is silly.

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Fact is

that you can get a significant performance boost from a hybrid drive for a fraction of the cost of an SSD, and yes, I have users who really do *need* to carry more than 60GB data. They back it up in the office, but they may be on remote sites for months on end with little or no connectivity, yet still need a great deal of data.

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Anonymous Coward

Reliability

When TLC proves itself to be more reliable than an standard hdd (more than five years of hard use), then I'll consider using one. Even that will depend on the size of the manufacturing process, because I'm not going for a die shrink version for that type of drive. I can't afford and SLC drive and I can barely afford the MLC drives with decent space on them. 6TB of magnetic drive space was far more economical for my video projects than solid state.

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Happy

"I don't really know why you'd need more than 100GB in a mobile device"

Hi Luke, I wouldn't base your requirements and assumptions to fit everyone else, mind you I like the way you contradict yourself with "I would love one of those 1TB flash drives" in your next paragraph ;)

Hybrids are a great idea at the moment, I've got some Momentus XT drives myself and you can really notice the difference. Considering the reliability rate I've seen hybrids may also be more reliable than their SSD cousins.

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Stop

Such a big word in two letters

"If OCZ and others can offer TLC flash SSDs at equivalent capacity and price to hybrid drives and enable longer battery life then it's surely game over."

Guess which word?

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This is possibly the dumbest article of the year so far. If it was just a matter of whats available i would pack my PC with ssd drives, but that's currently unafordable.

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FAIL

I think we got the idea now. Get less from this author.

Chris Mellor also was contonder for the 2011 trophee with "It's time to end the Windows Wait", november 2nd.

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FAIL

Article author can donate money to me anytime

Clearly this article was written by someone who has too much money. I'd happily take some of that money since it's clearly a burden. Unfortunately I will not be using such a donation to fund a stupidly big SSD.

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WTF?

Gotta agree...

You really need to consider the cost as well. Most of those 500Gb or 1Tb SSDs you gave as an example would cost more than the entire machine they are installed in.

In an ideal world we can get the hardware we want and not worry about the cost of it. Back here in the real world you have to strike a balance between what you want and what you can afford. Hybrid drives are a compromise - they give you some (most?) of the performance of an SSD at a price mere mortals can afford, and still give enough storage to be useful.

If you can afford a £3,000 SSD for a £1000 Ultrabook, go for it. I can't.

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Anonymous Coward

implicit words

"punters don't want to be limited by the [currently affordable] 128 to 256GB maximum capacities "

Seriousy, get a grip.

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