Print 17 comment(s) - last by MadAd.. on Jan 7 at 2:36 PM

Lenovo bloggers say that hybrid HDDs, "Robson" aren't quite up to snuff yet

Hard drive manufacturers and Intel have been touting the benefits of flash memory coupled with traditional HDDs for nearly a year now. In the case of hard drive manufacturers, companies are integrating small amounts of NAND flash memory (typically 256MB to 512MB) onto HDD PCBs.

Intel looks to achieve the same functionality through the use of Robson technology. With Robson technology, as much as 4GB of NAND flash memory are added to a notebook via an ExpressCard slot or an internal mini card slot (the same can be accomplished with a PCIe slot on a desktop system).

Hybrid HDDs along with Robson technology are supposed to work together with Windows Vista's ReadyDrive to boost performance as well as reduce power consumption on notebook systems -- or so Microsoft and HDD manufacturers say.

Some benefits with ReadyDrive are unquestionable such as the decrease in mechanical wear on the HDD due to the increased reliance on the NAND flash. The performance benefits, however, aren't there according to a blog post over at Lenovo's Inside the Box. Additionally, the employees emphasize that battery life benefits are not impressive according to internal testing.

The Lenovo bloggers recommend that users skip first generation ReadyDrive hardware altogether and simply purchase more memory or buy a faster traditional HDD for the time being. The bloggers also suggest waiting for second generation ReadyDrive devices before making the hybrid leap.

This news comes on the same day that the Hybrid Storage Alliance was formed by Fujitsu, Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate and Toshiba. The five companies are working together to tout the benefits of hybrid HDDs and expect for them to account for 35% of the total HDD market by 2010.

"The hard drive industry is continuously looking for ways to bring greater value to the systems in which our technology resides and to those who use them," said Joni Clark, chairperson, Hybrid Storage Alliance. "Adding non-volatile memory to the hard drive brings about a host of mobility benefits that increases the value users want in notebook PCs -- longer battery life, faster response, greater system durability."

Although performance may not be where many expect the technology to be at the moment, future generations of ReadyDrive devices will serve as competent stepping stone to the inevitable Flash SSD end game.

Several months ago, Microsoft unveiled the mid-2007 requirements for Vista Premium certification.  Solid-state hybrid hard drives were featured among those requirements.  According to a DailyTech interview with Don Barnetson, Director of Flash Marketing for Samsung, Microsoft has quietly pushed the hybrid hard drive requirement into 2008.  No explanation for the date change was given.

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As usual...
By therealnickdanger on 1/4/2007 5:11:23 PM , Rating: 2
I won't give in to any technology until it is properly reviewed and examined. Bloggers can say anything that they want until the product is actually tested in the real world.

RE: As usual...
By GhandiInstinct on 1/4/2007 6:12:04 PM , Rating: 2
Or just wait for Anand to state his opinion or professional review...

If that ever happens this year... :)

RE: As usual...
By mlittl3 on 1/4/07, Rating: 0
RE: As usual...
By Khato on 1/4/2007 6:32:47 PM , Rating: 2
Eh, this is Lenovo. Unless they think that they're going to have a larger profit margin on hybrid drive sales, then they have no reason to endorse them.

Now if this was coming from some hard drive manufacturer, then it'd be of interest. As it stands, meh, take it with a grain of salt, hehe.

RE: As usual...
By ScythedBlade on 1/4/2007 7:47:01 PM , Rating: 3
Technically, first generation stuff is kinda the worst of the bunch (Geez, I made it sound so bad), and that's because revisions WILL make it better. However, solid state hard drives don't look that bad anyway, since its jsut a slab of memory in addition to the platter. So ehh ... Still, I don't know why lenovo would say something bad about solid state hds ... they can charge a premium for its notebook. It's probably because they haven't updated their laptop cases ....

RE: As usual...
By Brandon Hill on 1/4/2007 7:50:19 PM , Rating: 2
They aren't saying anything bad about SSDs (i.e. Sandisk and Samsung), they're talking about hybrid hard drives: NAND + traditional mechanical disk.

RE: As usual...
By crystal clear on 1/6/2007 2:49:39 AM , Rating: 2
Intel adds 'Wolfdale', 'Yorkfield' to desktop roadmap

Intel's 45nm desktop dual-core processor will be codenamed 'Wolfdale' and appear in Q4, the latest roadmap slide to leak out of the chip giant has revealed. The part is based on 'Penryn', the 45nm incarnation of the Core 2 Duo architecture and the first platform to support SSE 4.

Alas, the slide, published by Chinese-language site HKEPC, simply says Wolfdale is a 45nm, dual-core part with a 65W TDP, as per the current generation of Core 2 Duos

RE: As usual...
By mindless1 on 1/5/2007 5:00:06 AM , Rating: 2
Why is pretty simple. If a technology doesn't offer appreciably better performance per dollar or any other significant benefit in typical use - only costing more, it's fairly pointless. All too often we see marketing material painting products in their best light rather than an unbiased comparison.

Right now we only have devices costing a premium, when it should've cost substantially less as memory density went up.

In short, you can only use so many band-aids to try and patch the wound that is Vista, but the wound doesn't disappear. Flash manufacturers will of course be quick to claim hypothetical advantages that put their products in best light, but ignoring that spending less money in other areas may be as effective or moreso for typical uses/users.

For example they cite Windows boot time. If you're really in a hurry to boot windows do you decide to fully boot it or go into a hybernation or other sleep state? Either is substantially faster than the supposed benefit from the flash drive at zero cost.

Let flash memory double in density, and the 2nd party manufacturers get some surplus chips to build the drives and then the cost will plummet to the point where it becomes more reasonable in cost.

RE: As usual...
By TomZ on 1/5/2007 4:51:17 PM , Rating: 2
Good points, but I would also point out that Lenovo might be working with pre-production and/or development systems that are functionally working but not optimized yet.

RE: As usual...
By crystal clear on 1/6/2007 3:04:33 AM , Rating: 2
Just a point-look at the whole issue from a marketing point of view-the next major buying season is "the Back to School

All product releases are geared/aimed for this season.

RE: As usual...
By crystal clear on 1/6/2007 3:43:18 AM , Rating: 2
Hi, there-here find something interesting-will you be there?

CES 2007: A preview of what you can expect to see on the showfloor

News about new consumer electronics devices and services have been arriving in our email inbox since early this week. And even before the show is kicked off with the first major press conferences on Sunday morning (LG Electronics, Pioneer, Toshiba, Philips, Sharp, RCA, Samsung, Panasonic and Sony), we already count about 20 noteworthy announcements

RE: As usual...
By crystal clear on 1/6/2007 4:17:49 AM , Rating: 2
Bill Gates’ Keynote Address

Timing. Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, will deliver the pre-show 2007 International CES keynote address at 6:30 p.m. PST Sunday, Jan. 7, in the Palazzo Ballroom at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.

Transcripts and view-on-demand portions of the keynote address will be posted to beginning Monday morning.

RE: As usual...
By crystal clear on 1/6/2007 8:06:34 AM , Rating: 2
In fact, there may well be a mass exodus from CES on Monday night to San Francisco ahead of Apple chief executive Steve Jobs giving his keynote speech

I suppose they are right
By jak3676 on 1/5/2007 11:14:26 AM , Rating: 2
I was hoping to believe that the new hybrid technology would dramically imporve performance, but it's really just another incremental step forward. Until the hybrid manufacturing and design improves and the cost comes down, we'll probably be better off upgrading to 7200 RPM drives or just adding more RAM instead of paying the added cost of a 1st gen hybrid HDD. Still I'm hopeful that as things mature we can get the best out of solid state and traditional HDDs.

I like my Raptors
By TimberJon on 1/5/2007 4:24:34 PM , Rating: 2
I was thinking, though I didn't see it stated...

That the reason behind the speed increase has something to do with virtual memory? or the data that is quickly written to the HDD when programs are opened, used and closed. I agree that having solid state memory to work with while say.. AutoCAD 2007 loads would give some time for the drive(s) to spin up and you will already have begun to work.

Thats my understanding on it..

Someone correct me if im wrong, or let me know if I'm on the right track. I just build PC's, I dont really get how the hardware works.

Who influences the market?
By crystal clear on 1/6/2007 6:07:45 AM , Rating: 2
The following links in the background-

*Intel intros next-generation Centrino Duo platform

*Vendors partner to promote Flash-fitted hard drives

Calling Vista-running Centrino laptop makers...

Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate and Toshiba have come together to promote hard drives with integrated Flash caches, the better to persuade notebook manufacturers in particular to choose their offerings rather than rival technology from Intel.

*Lenovo does not control the notebook market & as such "not worth its say" to influence the market.

*It the market leader of the likes of Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate and Toshiba ,who influence the market with their connections to OEMs & ODMs.
With the exception of Seagate, all of them are OEMs & ODMs
*Intel itself a major influence on the notebook market,also
will promote their offerings

*Its safer to consider the major players of the market,with
their plans & ignoring the Lenovo blah blah....

By MadAd on 1/7/2007 2:36:43 PM , Rating: 2
"If you were going to buy 1GB, buy 2GB instead. If you were going to by a 80GB 5400 rpm hdd, buy the 7200 rpm instead."

Early adopters would probably be the people that already had 2GB and 7200 rpm drives (and thats just in their laptop) so its not really useful to compare it like an upgrade - its whether the small amount of gain to be had is worth the extra cost of having it, just like any enthusiast or tuned addon. (and we all know some people just like to throw money at percieved and negligible upgrades- can anyone say killer nic?)

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer
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