Toshiba has introduced a new hybrid drive targeting slim notebooks. The awkwardly named MQ01ABFH combines solid-state and mechanical storage in a 2.5" case measuring just 7 mm thick.
This isn't Toshiba's only so-called SSHD. The firm also offers a couple of 9.5-mm models with 1TB and 750GB spread over two platters. The MQ01ABFH is a single-platter design limited to 320 and 500GB capacities. As with Toshiba's other hybrids, the spindle speed is a sedate 5,400 RPM.
The MQ01ABFH's 8GB flash cache should help to offset the sluggish rotational speed. That flash is managed internally, so there's no need for separate software or drivers. Toshiba says the built-in caching intelligence uses self-learning algorithms to make decisions about what to cache in the NAND. However, neither the press release nor the information on Toshiba's site indicates whether the cache is capable of storing data for both reads and writes. The first couple generations of Seagate's self-managed hybrids used their caches to serve read requests exclusively, and I wouldn't be surprised if Toshiba's offerings were similar. We've asked the company for clarification.
Although Toshiba doesn't say when or even if its latest hybrid will be sold as a bare drive, we can apparently expect the MQ01ABFH to pop up in "various notebook PCs." Toshiba's 9.5-mm hybrids aren't sold through Amazon or Newegg, so I wouldn't expect to see the slimmer variants carried by those outlets.
Seagate's Laptop Thin SSHD has similar specifications to the Toshiba hybrid, right down to its 7-mm body. WD has gone even thinner, squeezing its first SSHD into a 5-mm case. The UltraSlim WD offering relies on separate software to manage its NAND cache, though. Intel's Haswell platform includes an updated version of Smart Response Technology that's capable of managing the flash cache on certain hybrids, including WD's. It will be interesting to see if driver-controlled solutions end up winning out over SSHDs that manage their caches internally.