Earlier today X-bit Labs reported that Seagate will stop the production of their 7200RPM 2.5" drives by the end of this year and I just got a confirmation from Seagate that this is really the case. Seagate currently offers four 7200RPM 2.5" lineups: Momentus 7200.4, 7200.2, Momentus Thin 7200, and Momentus XT. The latter is Seagate's hybrid drive, which couples the spinning platters with 8GB of SLC NAND for caching purposes.

The move makes sense when looking at the market's state. 7200RPM mobile hard drives have always been a premium product and are mostly found in high-end laptops or built-to-order configurations. Due to the decline in SSD prices over the last few years, the market for faster hard drives has quickly faded away because users seeking for performance have opted for SSDs instead of 7200RPM hard drives. While 7200RPM 2.5" hard drives are still significantly cheaper per GB than SSDs, even a small (32-128GB) SSD will provide better overall performance when used as an OS and applications drive, and high-end laptops can often be configured with dual-drives to overcome the capacity issue (especially with mSATA around or by removing the optical drive).

As an intermediate solution, quite a few laptop OEMs also offer at least some sort of flash based storage in their higher-end products nowadays, usually in the form of a small mSATA caching SSD. 5400RPM hard drives are fast enough when the most frequently stored data is stored in an SSD and draw less power so they are more optimal as secondary storage.  

Seagate won't depart the performance hard drive market as they will focus on hybrid drives (SSHDs). Ultimately I believe this is a better choice because we still haven't really seen a great hybrid drive and the market for hybrid drives is definitely bigger and more future-proof than 7200RPM hard drives. While the first and second generation Momentus XTs have been a good start, 4-8GB of NAND isn't enough to provide the real SSD experience. There is hope that with the discontinuation of 7200RPM mobile hard drives, Seagate will put more effort into the Momentus XT. Personally I would like to see multiple SKUs with varying amounts of NAND to cater to the mainstream market as well as the high-end market where users are expecting more SSD-like performance.

Seagate doesn't have a consumer SSD lineup, so the Momentus XT is a crucial product for Seagate in order to stay in the high-end, higher-profit consumer storage market. The question is whether they will be able to make a hybrid drive a more attractive option than a caching mSATA/M.2 SSD with a conventional hard drive. Given the current pricing and the upgrade path offered by mSATA/M.2, plus the fact that 20-32GB caching SSDs with Intel's Smart Response Technology clearly outperform the current Momentus XT offerings, Seagate has their work cut out for them. In another five years, short of a new explosion in storage intensive files, we will likely reach the point where everything becomes pure SSD because the cost and performance will be better than any conventional or hybrid solutions.

Source: X-bit Labs

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  • piroroadkill - Monday, March 04, 2013 - link

    By Seagate's OWN spec sheets, the 5400RPM versions of its drives use MORE energy than the 7200RPM drives, if you don't believe it, look it up on their site themselves.

    5400 is obsolete.

    I hope they mean they are discontinuing NON-Hybrid 7200RPM, because if they took the Momentus XT and bumped the NAND to about 30GB, it would be a fine, fine product.

    Disclaimer: I do have a Momentus XT 750GB in my rig as a compromise between SSD and HDD for my giant Steam folder. (Caching the game you're currently playing has to count for something, right?)
    Reply
  • wclardy - Monday, March 04, 2013 - link

    Before consigning 7.K rpm drives to the "no longer needed" pile, you folks might want to look at a recent Infoworld article titled "Test your SSDs or risk massive data loss, researchers warn: New study finds 13 of 15 flash-based solid-state drives suffer data loss or worse when they lose power". The URL for the article is http://www.infoworld.com/t/solid-state-drives/test...

    The key point is that most SSDs tested showed significant data loss or data corruption when restarted after a power failure. Since "most freuently accessed data" usually correlates to "most important data", this has some serious implications for hybrid caching architectures as well as pure-SSD installations.
    Reply
  • ShieTar - Tuesday, March 05, 2013 - link

    In what world is power failure a relevant problem for a notebook? Reply
  • mtcoder - Monday, March 04, 2013 - link

    problem I see is no one is looking at any raid option. Sorry but I like a raid option in my laptop just as much as I do in the desktop, and can't raid between a SSD and platter usually.
    And going with two SSD tend to not be a viable option either when looking at cost to size comparisons.
    Reply
  • ryanmm - Monday, March 04, 2013 - link

    " In another five years, short of a new explosion in storage intensive files, we will likely reach the point where everything becomes pure SSD because the cost and performance will be better than any conventional or hybrid solutions."

    Won't happen, people were saying this five years ago and it hasn't come close to coming true.

    Enthusiasts shouldn't confuse what they would like to happen with what will happen in the real world. Hard drives will continue to be dominant.
    Reply
  • ShieTar - Tuesday, March 05, 2013 - link

    Actually, I am already at the point where both my Desktop PC (256GB) and my Notebook (128GB) are pure SSD. Only my fileserver is keeping 4TB of mechanical drives for music and videos.

    Some users may have more data-extensive hobbies then myself, but for the vast majority of youtube-watching standard users, 256GB of notebook-memory are fine, and 512GB will be more than enough. And thats already available at prices below 300$, and falling quickly.
    Reply
  • Nfarce - Wednesday, March 06, 2013 - link

    Like someone else here, I have the 750GB Momentus XT for my PC gaming rig, mainly for Steam files and Flight Simulator files. It is slower than the 256GB SATA III SSD in my backup gaming rig, but much, much faster than the 500GB 7,200 HDD that used to be in that backup gaming rig.

    And let's not forget about 2.5" HDDs for gaming consoles. I highly doubt a large capacity SSD will be used for the Xbox 720 or PS4. I have a 750GB 7200rpm drive right now in a PS3 for home video movies and other files not game related. Will have the same needs for the PS4. Let's hope WD doesn't decide to go this way of axing the 2.5" drive either.
    Reply

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