Seagate Positions Slim, 500GB HDD for Tablet Market
September 10, 2013 4:20 AM
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Seagate claims that its 500GB will offer the performance of a 16GB SSD
When it comes to devices like consumer tablets, we've all just grown accustomed to the use of fast and reliable onboard NAND flash for our storage needs. The use of NAND makes sense because of the performance and inherent robust nature of the storage medium when used in a highly mobile (and sometimes dropped) tablet.
However, using NAND flash isn't exactly cheap, so most tablets that we see these days top out at either
128GB in consumer devices
256GB for professional devices
, a company that is deeply invested in producing HDDs, is maneuvering to extend its reach into the booming tablet market with new storage solutions.
The company is introducing its new 2.5" Ultra Mobile HDD that is only 5mm thin and weighs 3.5 ounces. Seagate says that this new HDD will offer 500GB of space (with an 8GB flash buffer), while offering power consumption that mirrors a 64GB SSD and performance that matches a 16GB SSD.
Naturally, Seagate says that its 500GB Ultra Mobile HDD solution would be cheaper than either the aforementioned SSDs.
Seagate's 500GB Ultra Mobile HDD (pictured on the left)
“Coupling an ultra-thin, high-capacity HDD with software designed to optimize integration into tablets at a value-add price has allowed us to deliver a truly ground-breaking solution, enabling our partners to reimagine the mobile device,” said Steve Luczo, president, CEO and chairman of Seagate. “By empowering our OEMs with this revolutionary new technology, we have invited the industry to re-think the mobile market making this offering a true game-changer in the world of storage.”
While the idea of getting 500GB of storage space with SSD performance at a lower price point sounds intriguing, we also have to realize that this is still a 2.5" form-factor device in a slimmer package. That means that the footprint of the drive will still take up a lot of real estate within the tablet's chassis. And that extra space gobbled up by the drive's packaging will mean less space for things like the internal battery.
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RE: Wait a second...
9/10/2013 1:45:53 PM
And that brings up another issue:
They are claiming that this HDD is going to be 'as fast as' a 16GB SSD. The first issue there is that 16GB SSDs are extremely old by today's standards, hitting a max read of some 250MB/s and a max write of ~80MB/s, with very similar marks for random IO as it has for sequential throughput.
There is no way on earth that this tiny low power HDD is going to come close to that kind of performance. Maybe, just maybe, it will be able to beat the 80MB/s write performance on a sequential write... but it is not going to meet any of those other specs. There are just physical barriers to it that are not ready to be broken any time soon.
On top of that, this drive is WAY too large to fit into something that would have 16GB of storage. This would fit in something like a thick tablet along the lines of a Surface Pro, or an ultrabook. An iPad or other traditional tablet is simply not going to have the physical space to cram this drive in. So rather than competing with devices that have 32-128GB of slow embedded storage where this could be a big selling point, it is going to compete with devices that have 256GB of very fast storage.
If it was a difference between a 64GB device getting slightly slower performance but a ton of extra space then I would choose the HDD option without a 2nd thought. But a slow 500GB device vs a fast 256GB device? Even with a $100 price drop I would be hard pressed to choose the HDD option, especially if this is supposed to be a fast premium device.
Besides, we are on the verge of a new gen of controllers, a die shrink for traditional SSDs, and new resistive memory all coming this fall; all of which have the promise of bringing the $/GB down on SSD tech again. I am sure this new drive will still be cheaper than an SSD, but if we are seeing $0.30/GB SSDs in a few months then I am not sure that the price difference could possibly be worth the performance hit. A low performance $80 500GB HDD is tough to swallow compared to a much faster $80-100 256GB SSD.
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