Terabyte Toshiba hybrid drive has 8GB of NAND cache

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.

Comments closed
    • tygrus
    • 7 years ago

    8GB NAND cache is too little, too late.

    • Duck
    • 7 years ago

    I’ve found a better way using a SSD and HDD. I call it “Duck’s cheap ass, low tech caching system”.

    You install Windows to your SSD as normal. But then by the use of NTFS system links, you move as much bulk as you want onto your HDD to free up space on your SSD. You can choose exactly what gets the SSD treatment.

    For example, I moved C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET to a different drive with no issues. This freed up nearly 900MB. There’s many more folders that I can do this with if I wanted.

      • gamoniac
      • 7 years ago

      That might make sense 9 months ago, and if you don’t mind .Net based programs to take longer to load. Now that the price of SSD has dropped to $.60 – $.75/GB, it is more sensible to spend that extra $30 and save a few hours of tinkering. Besides, it makes back up and system restoration a lot less painful, should the need arise.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    I believe HD makers missed the boat. They had a pretty big window to implement their own hybrid solutions in order to compete with SSDs. They failed to do this and software makers are now coming out with their own solutions, which effectively use SSDs as a cache and HDs as storage.

    IMO that was the way it was meant to be done, yet there has been no real commitment from drive manufacturers to do this. Seagate and WD should really get there acts together. I mean even putting aside SSDs, what sort of improvements have we seen out of HD makers? We haven’t seen any sort of speed increases, density increases, or really anything remarkable out of them in a few years.

    Curiously Geoff, what are you talking about for using a msata drive as a cache?

      • Squeazle
      • 7 years ago

      Perhaps. But considering the price points of both drives, I would be very interested to see even more NAND storage attached to an HDD. Like 80GB instead of 8GB. Especially since I don’t care to chunk together the parts myself in what would be an inevitable failure.

      Also, density has been going through the roof over the past few years… this last year was a little slow, but given the amount of storage they have available already, increased competition cutting into revenues, and needing to get factories back in order, I think I can forgive a single year of stagnation.

      • Arag0n
      • 7 years ago

      I would say that from manufacturer point of view is pretty easy. Just save a histogram of all files being accessed every time the system is used and then, the most used files lower than a given threshold go to the SSD. You don’t even need to do prediction of user behavior and try to load files after users use something previously, and still it will be considerably faster than a normal HD.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        You think it would, but they haven’t done it. :l

      • Bauxite
      • 7 years ago

      Seagate and WD got their acts together alright, they bought/killed every other drive maker so they can set up a nice little duopoly. Queue a flood that apparently they still haven’t “recovered” from (yeah right) and they took care of that death spiral that was scaring the crap out of them around $30/TB.

      SSDs are nice, I love them too, but as smaller process flash endures less writes before failure they will hit a size wall, need whole new tech to go further. Those with petabyte needs will continue to buy spinning platters.

      Ironically (or cynically as I am apt to be) if the consumer/single disk system market is taken over by SSDs in the next few years (they are already plenty big enough for joe blow) I predict they will be able to gouge on high capacity HDDs as a “purely enterprise” product.

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    I recently had to decide between something like a MomentusXT and an SSD because the Clevo w110er that I ordered myself has one disk bay and no mSATA slot.

    In the end I figured that capacity over 100GB was superflous, and if I really wanted it I could get a terabyte 2.5″ external drive that’s smaller than the mouse and powerbrick I’ll be lugging around anyway.

    Needless to say, the 128GB Kingston V200 was on offer for [i<]less[/i<] than the cost of a 500GB 7200RPM drive. Now I'm no [b<]rocket surgeon[/b<], but that seemed like a no-brainer to me.

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 7 years ago

    8 GBs of Nand seems to be on the weak side. I feel like this product is at least 2 years behind the times.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    User accessible mSATA port+2.5″ drive is the ideal for notebooks imo.

    • iatacs19
    • 7 years ago

    With SSD prices dropping rapidly and capacities increasing there is no need for hybrid drives. They should just spend that R&D money on developing NAND capacity and features.

    • DancinJack
    • 7 years ago

    I couldn’t justify buying a hybrid drive at this point. I have a 128GB SSD + lots of mechanical storage in my computer and with notebooks/ultrabooks being equipped with small SSDs for caching or standalone 120GB+ SSDs, unless the hybrid drive is significantly cheaper than a traditional mechanical drive, I wouldn’t buy it.

    • dmjifn
    • 7 years ago

    Speaking of hybrids – is there a way to use an SSD as both a standard drive [i<]and[/i<] a cache drive? I.e., Put all your OS and apps on most of the SSD, but reserve 16GB or so to cache your hard disk?

      • 5150
      • 7 years ago

      FancyCache will do that. You can have it use some of your RAM as cache too.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        Looks interesting. Makes me want to upgrade to 32 GB of ram and see how well it performs.

          • dmjifn
          • 7 years ago

          I agree, it looks pretty interesting. It looks like people get gains with even throwing a few hundred MB at the cache. Which is fortunate for me because my slots are filled with 2GB modules.

      • pcgeek86
      • 7 years ago

      Bleh. That sounds overly complicated.

      Some laptops (like my Samsung Series 5) have Condusiv Technology’s (formerly Diskeeper) “ExpressCache” which is a 16GB embedded SSD cache, with a kernel driver in Windows 7/8 that caches information to the SSD. To be honest, it works pretty well performance-wise, but it causes problems when trying to install Windows sometimes, because it sees the SSD as an actual disk, and it’s impossible to completely hide it (no BIOS option to disable the cache).

      With the issues in mind, I’d rather not have the ExpressCache at all, and just have a nice, hefty 512GB SSD (Crucial m4).

        • dmjifn
        • 7 years ago

        Complicawhat? If you’re already OK with having an SSD system drive and a disk data drive, and this caching is automagically managed by the system, it doesn’t seem that complicated to me.

        But if you’re saying the strategy of having separate system and data drives is annoying, I don’t disagree. I’m on board with the large SSD for everything idea.

      • swaaye
      • 7 years ago

      I just wrote up a mini guide to doing this with Intel Smart Response. I found instructions around the web and set my machine up this way:
      [url<]http://forum.beyond3d.com/showthread.php?t=62297[/url<]

      • sluggo
      • 7 years ago

      If you have the chipset that supports it, Intel’s SRT does that for you automatically. You load everything onto your HD and use the SSD as a dynamic mirror (you actually use RAID drivers for the HD). Under SRT, the SSD does not store files, only the most frequently used logical blocks, so only the segments of .NET (for instance) that you actually need are ever loaded into the SSD.

      SRT allows you to split the SSD into cache space and file space. The cache space can be as large as 60GB, and anything left over on the drive can be partitioned however you like.

    • pcgeek86
    • 7 years ago

    I’m skeptical. Nothing beats a true SSD, and they’re getting to be quite reasonable in price. The Crucial m4 512GB SSD was recently listed on Amazon for $365, albeit back-ordered. That is an excellent bargain, for so speedy & reliable a drive.

      • DeadOfKnight
      • 7 years ago

      Yeah Micron has really been driving down prices across the board with their M4s. Samsung too, given their performance advantage. Must be good to own your own fabs, I’m sure these two companies aren’t losing much for profit by doing this.

      • indeego
      • 7 years ago

      “Nothing beats a true SSD”

      What interface? What memory? What caching? What TRIM? What controller? What what?

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