Seagate has been selling hybrid hard drives that combine flash memory with traditional mechanical platters for several years. We've reviewed a couple of Momentus XT models, which provide a reasonable compromise for notebooks with only one hard drive bay. Now, it looks like Toshiba is getting set to join the party. At the Flash Memory Summit, the company showed off a hybrid notebook drive with a terabyte of storage capacity backed by 8GB of NAND cache.
According to The SSD Review, the drive is purported to hit speeds of 80MB/s while video editing and score 16,000 in PCMark Vantage. Those numbers don't sound particularly impressive, especially if 80MB/s is the drive's top sustained speed. The nine-month-old Momentus XT has sustained transfer rates around 90MB/s.
Hybrids are typically designed to reduce load times, and the Toshbia apparently booted Windows nearly as quickly as an SSD. I'm interested to see how the drive's overall performance stacks up against the Momentus XT. We may have to get one in for testing.
Then again, the allure of hybrid drives is fading fast as more notebooks—including ultrabooks—provide mSATA slots in addition to 2.5" drive bays. This arrangement allows larger SSDs to be combined with standard mechanical hard drives, either as cache or stand-alone drives that users populate themselves. Dual-drive solutions should offer better performance than all-in-one hybrids, in part because they can support a lot more flash than drive makers can stuff into 2.5" enclosures already packed with mechanical platters. As a result, hybrids seem likely to be relegated to budget notebooks.