Toshiba hybrid drive coming to ultrabooks in September

Hybrid storage solutions come in many flavors, but Seagate is the only one making something that fits inside a standard hard drive form factor. Two generations of the Momentus XT have combined traditional mechanical platters with NAND flash memory. Earlier this year, Western Digital confirmed that it’s developing a hybrid drive, too, but declined to provide further details. Now, Toshiba has thrown its hat into the ring.

According to Tech On, Toshiba CEO Norio Sasaki discussed plans for the company’s hybrid drive at a briefing session last week. The drive will reportedly arrive in September and target ultrabooks, which means it will almost certainly be a 2.5-incher. I suspect the hybrid will use the slimmer 7-mm version of the 2.5″ form factor, which typically allows for only a single mechanical platter.

Toshiba’s 2.5″ MQ01ABD notebook drive currently packs 500GB per platter, so the new hybrid should offer at least a half-terabyte of mechanical storage capacity. The latest Momentus XT is equipped with 8GB of NAND, an amount I’d expect Toshiba to match. The company does, after all, make its own flash memory. Toshbia also produces controller chips for SSDs, making it uniquely equipped to combine mechanical and solid-state storage.

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    • shank15217
    • 7 years ago

    Hybrid drives are great but they need to support write caching as well as read caching to be really useful alternatives to ssd. A lot of today’s caching is read only and that keeps a lot of performance on the table.

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    The read-only cache of the momentus XT was its downfall.
    If the Toshiba follows the same model then it’s not exciting enough to warrant interest.

    [i<]Today[/i<] I'd be looking for a hybrid that had at least 16GB of writeable NAND in a way that something like Intel's Z68 SmartResponse drivers could use. By the time anything like that comes to fruition though, 16GB of NAND would probably be obsolete.

      • shank15217
      • 7 years ago

      Well to be fair the second generation hybrid drive is a really good performer for a mechanical drive with some ssd features. I do agree that read only cache isn’t good enough.

        • Chrispy_
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah. If we were kids in the mechanical disk playground, the guy with a Momentus XT would be the most popular kid there.

        He’s still have nothing on the US Navy-seal, armed-to-the-teeth killing machine that represents any real SSD.

        Hybrid drives are still grouped with mechanical disks. They’re nowhere near the orders-of-magnitude-better SSD’s

    • dpaus
    • 7 years ago

    I’d rather see a ‘conventional’ 64 GB SSD simply combined into the same form factor as the 500 GB platter – but appearing to the OS as two devices. Make sure the SSD is big enough for the OS and applications, and leave the mechanical drive for data storage only.

      • Xylker
      • 7 years ago

      That would seem to be a logical sort of compromise, but would it require two SATA ports? Would the device look like a RAID controller to the OS? I think that your wish could be granted w/o too much effort, but I wonder about the trade-offs involved.

        • ludi
        • 7 years ago

        I’m assuming that it could be presented to the SATA port and the OS as a single drive device with two unmodifiable partitions. For the OE systems market, notebooks in particular, this would not need to be a tradeoff at all.

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        No, you can multiplex drives over SATA. All modern SATA chipsets support this functionality. Some early ones didn’t, but those wouldn’t be put in a new laptop, so they don’t matter.

          • cygnus1
          • 7 years ago

          i was just going to comment the same basic thing. stick a port multiplier chip at the port interface in front of the ssd and mechanical drive and boom.

          now, they would have to share the bandwidth of that one sata connection to the rest of the system, but i don’t think that would hamper performance enough to overcome the awesomeness of the idea

      • aceuk
      • 7 years ago

      Alternatively, what about a 64GB SSD soldered onto the motherboard and then a spare drive bay for whatever 7mm 2.5″ drive you want?

        • Voldenuit
        • 7 years ago

        You don’t need to solder. Some laptops already come with a spare mini-PCIE slot that will accept a mSATA SSD in addition to the regular 2.5″ drive.

          • Airmantharp
          • 7 years ago

          Called mSATA, and it’s the way of the future. It makes SSDs cheaper to manufacture and saves physical space in the chassis, while being extremely easy to implement at the motherboard level.

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