Toshiba Combines HDD, Flash Storage for Notebooks, Desktops
Toshiba plans to begin large-scale production of a new, 2.5-inch hybrid disk drive and NAND flash memory combined in a single unit suitable for ultrabooks, notebooks and PCs, company officials said.
The idea, to fuse the speed and responsiveness of solid state technology with the capacity and cost-effectiveness of hard disk drives (HDD), so far hasn’t gained much traction among notebook makers, but that could change rapidly with Toshiba’s entry into market. Channel partners will want to take notice if notebook sales gain a tailwind prodded by hybrid drives.
Toshiba is now shipping the new MQ01ABDH series drives, available in 1TB and 750GB capacities, as samples to OEMs, the primary customer for the storage units. Mass production will begin in October, the company said. Toshiba will feature the hybrid drives in some notebooks it will offer this holiday season.
With burgeoning tablet sales peeling customers away from notebooks and ultrabook demand still sputtering, Toshiba believes the hybrid drives, which offer users snap-of-the-finger system boot, will attract prospects back to notebooks. And, while the company didn’t offer up pricing for the hybrid drives, one report suggests the units will be priced somewhat near the cost of a standard HDD. That alone would be quite a feat considering solid state drives typically cost far more than traditional storage.
Seagate’s hybrid Momentus XT has been on the market for two years but OEMs largely haven’t taken to it, perhaps, as this blog speculates, owing to the lack of other entries. But now, with Toshiba’s new unit and Western Digital earlier this month announcing its own hybrid drive, demand for the technology among notebook and PC makers could pick up.
One common complaint about hybrid drives is the algorithms don’t work all that well. For example, it’s important to cache material used often immediately rather than large files used only occasionally. Along those lines, Toshiba says the MQ01ABDH series features a self-learning algorithm that learns the user’s data access habits to maximize performance.
From results of its internal testing Toshiba said the hybrid drives boosted read and write times by a factor of three when compared to the vendor’s hard disk drives of equal capacities and lowered application boot times by about 40 percent.
“We think the hybrid drive will overtake the dual drive because there’s no special driver needed, it’s OS-agnostic, specific chipsets aren’t necessarily needed — whereas with dual drives you need specific types of chipsets — it works like a normal drive, but you get the surprise of SSD-like performance,” said Patty Kim, Toshiba storage device division product marketing manager, as quoted in this report.