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Samsung releases its first hybrid hard drives

While Fujitsu may have snagged the headlines on Monday for its 7200RPM 160GB SATA/300 2.5" hard disk drive (HDD), Samsung is looking to make a few headlines of its own with the availability of the world's first hybrid HDDs. Samsung new MH80 Series hybrid HDDs will be available in capacities of 80GB, 120GB and 160GB.

Samsung new MH80 HDDs will be fully compatible with Windows Vista and will offer OneNAND Flash onboard in capacities of 128MB or 256MB. The onboard flash allows for up to 50% faster OS boots, quicker resume times and increases in battery life of up to 30 minutes.

"As a leader in both hard drive and flash memory technologies, Samsung brings to market a unique hybrid hard drive that is sure to revolutionize the notebook computing experience," said Albert Kim, National Sales Manager, Storage Systems for Samsung Semiconductor. "The MH80 hybrid hard drive provides the ideal solution for two major issues that notebook PC users continually face: faster boot and resume performance and extended battery life."

Samsung claims that the MH80 Series offers five times the reliability of traditional HDDS while consuming 70-90% less power.

Hopefully, Samsung's claims will pan out in real world testing. Internal testing by Lenovo engineers has shown that hybrid HDDs aren't all they're cracked up to be.

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how does it work
By Visual on 3/8/2007 7:20:14 AM , Rating: 2
from my understanding, the flash memory won't be directly visible and controllable by the os, it will be just like the current 8/16mb hdd caches that work absolutely transparently and are controlled by the drive's firmware itself. so it has nothing to do with os features like readyboost.

it will be very efficient in caching writes and delaying them until there's a big enough chunk to be written to the platters. being non-volatile, it is safe to do such write delays for an arbitrary amount of time. this will certainly help with write performance, battery life, maybe also noise and heat, especially for many small writes.

but how will it help with booting up or app loading or random access read latencies in general? i see no way the drive could predict what sectors to keep cached for this task, as it will need capacities of several gigabytes. also any form of preloading unrequested blocks based on predictions seems unlikely, as it will go against the 'saving power by minimising platter operations' idea...

the only case that i can imagine where this could help in read operations is if you try to read chunks that are in the same block as another recently read or written chunk and it's still in the cache.

RE: how does it work
By TomZ on 3/8/2007 9:15:30 AM , Rating: 2
Vista will have direct control over the flash ("NV cache") in the HDD. The feature is called ReadyDrive, and it works along with SuperFetch and ReadyBoost in Vista.

I linked to this PowerPoint presentation in another post, but here it is again for your convenience:

It speeds up boot time because it takes several seconds to spin up a HDD before you can read from it. The NV cache is written during shutdown or hybernate with the data that is needed to boot or resume.

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