Final Words

Seagate's Momentus XT should become the standard hard drive in any notebook shipped. The biggest problem I have with using any brand new machine, regardless of how fast it is, is that it never feels fast because it usually has a HDD and not an SSD. While the Momentus XT isn't quite as fast as an SSD, it's a significant improvement over the mechanical drives found in notebooks today.

In many cases the Momentus XT performs like a VelociRaptor, but in a lower power, quieter package. The impact of adding just a small amount of SLC NAND is tremendous. I wonder what kept Western Digital from sticking some NAND on its VelociRaptor instead of giving us the lackluster upgrade we got earlier this year.

The potential for hybrid drives continues to be huge, what Seagate has shown here is that with a minimal amount of NAND you can achieve some tremendous performance gains. There's no reason for any performance oriented mechanical drive to ship without at least some small amount of NAND on board. There's also much room for Seagate to innovate. We could see drives with more NAND or truly hybrid drives that provide read and write caching in NAND.

Compared standard 2.5" drives, the Momentus XT will set you back an additional $50 - 90 depending on the capacity point. The added cost is absolutely worth it. It's still a lot cheaper than an SSD since we're in the sub-$0.31 per GB area while SSDs sell in the range of $2 - $4 per GB.

If you're not going to buy an SSD for your notebook, then definitely go for the Momentus XT. I'd almost go as far as to say it's a great option for desktop users but unless you're on a budget you're probably better served by a small SSD + 3.5" drive on the desktop.

Power Consumption
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  • leexgx - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    vista and windows 7 make an cache file so when it boots up it loads it into ram so when the programs request it its all ready in ram, it norm frees up approx 400MB on my system once the desktop has shown for more then 20-30 secs

    the above can only be done after the first boot has happened (so second and 3rd boot are norm better as it now has history and this fie is remade every boot so the flash is likely not been used as its an new file every boot up as it tweeks it every boot)

    superfetch and this preboot in windows 7 would of messed some of these results up an little
    Reply
  • DominionSeraph - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    Sounds more like Windows' boot optimization to me. If that's still an idle task in Windows 7, perhaps the 5400RPM drive isn't being allowed to idle long enough to process the boot defrag? Reply
  • jimhsu - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    I've said that the future usage scenario of SSDs, barring any dramatic price decreases, will probably be as cache. (For example, ZFS: http://iablog.sybase.com/paulley/2008/08/flash-ssd... and I'm pretty certain the other big file systems such as NTFS and ext will follow). And http://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=15&am... . Do such "hybrid drives" offer better performance, better reliability, or any other advantage over filesystem-level caching techniques? Reply
  • nortexoid - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    There's not much point in the synthetic benchmarks besides showing how the drive performs on applications that you're not running frequently--i.e. to compare the hdd-minus-the-4gb-flash-cache performance of the drive, basically.

    I'd say these hybrid drives are the best of both worlds and hence the best drives currently on the market. Capacity plus speed at "little" more than a standard magnetic drive. Awesome
    Reply
  • KingofL337 - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    I really wish they could have used 8-16GB of FLASH. 4GB isn't enough to really speed up everything you use allot on your computer to SSD speeds. I think for most people 8-16GB could definitely nail down the common stuff.

    What would be really sweet is if some company would make a hybrid drive controller that could take a SSD and HDD, then slave them together and make a hybrid system. Then I could select the size SSD and HDD based on my performance requirements.
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    Seagate can only do what makes them money. If they sell a lot of these then the design team will be allowed to continue improving and exploring additional options. If they dont sell well, well...

    What I want is a flash cache that stores all my 4K random writes in flash, and also stores in flash any 4K cluster that I access frequently. 16GB 4 channel MLC would cost about the same as 1 channel of 4GB SLC. But they would need to add wear leveling.
    Reply
  • leexgx - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    the idea of the drive is so that the Most common read LBA blocks on the disk get cached into the flash, the drive does not care if the Read was an file or not as its only looking at what Part of the disk was read the most and puts that onto the flash

    quite an good idea really
    Reply
  • arthur449 - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    Silverstone has been selling a SSD+HDD device like you describe.
    http://silverstonetek.com/products/p_contents.php?...

    It would be interesting to see how this SSD/HDD "do-it-yourself" hybrid fairs against The Mighty Anandtech Storage Benchmark, and, if pairing a fast SSD with a fast HDD, would give us a truly seamless best of both worlds experience.
    Reply
  • shin0bi272 - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    If you have a velociraptor dont bother with this and buy a standard SSD to boot from. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Monday, May 24, 2010 - link

    You'll be announcing the Barracuda's with this, say, 2TB, with 8-16GB cache, anytime soon, right? Reply

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