Tech Insight Solid State Hybrid Drives: Speed, Capacity and Affordability

Seagate integrates a small affordable amount of solid state memory into the core architecture of a hard disc drive to deliver hybrid drives.


In 2011, Seagate introduced a new category of storage device that combines solid state storage technology with traditional hard drive technology. The device became known as the solid state hybrid drive (SSHD). It combines the old and the new to deliver high performance, lots of capacity and a price that works.

Make room for solid state

Virtually all computer users are familiar with the term hard disc drive (HDD). First introduced in 1956, HDD storage devices have evolved over the past decades almost into a commodity component of every desktop and laptop computer used today.

But a new technology has captured the attention of performance-focused computer users: the solid state drive (SSD) —a relatively new storage technology that uses integrated circuit-based memory chips instead of rotating memory like an HDD.

Revving the engine

Modern computers use advanced microprocessors capable of many millions of complex computations every second. But they can only go as fast as your storage allows. All of the digital information stored on your computer hard drive — images, videos, documents and more — are fuel for your microprocessor. The faster you can deliver this digital fuel to your computer’s microprocessor, the faster your computer will perform and the richer the applications it can support.

SSD technology has some very attractive benefits, the most important of which is performance. An SSD will deliver significantly more overall computer system performance compared to a traditional hard drive. Unlike a hard drive that has spinning discs and moving parts as key elements for locating, reading and retrieving digital data, SDDs use no moving parts and deliver data to your computer microprocessor effectively and quickly.

High performance at a high cost

Here is where SSD technology comes in to help deliver breakthrough system performance. Unlike a hard drive, which has spinning discs and moving parts as key elements for locating, reading and retrieving digital data, SDDs have no moving parts and deliver data to your computer microprocessor effectively and quickly. The result? A lot of fuel is delivered to your computer’s engine, making it go much faster!

But SSDs are expensive. That is why they have only been used in the highest performance laptops. Their higher technology costs have prohibited them from being realistic for most systems. Most people installing an SSD in their computer have to compromise with a very small amount of capacity, perhaps 64GB to 128GB, just to make it affordable.

Enter solid state hybrid drive technology

In reality, what the computer industry needs is a storage technology that provides the capacity and price profile of a hard drive, with the performance of an SSD. Seagate solid state hybrid drives(SSHD) deliver it. SSHD technology integrates a small (and very affordable) amount of solid state memory into the core architecture of an HDD to produce an incredible combined benefit: the capacity of a hard drive, speed similar to an SSD and a price that is slightly more than a traditional hard drive.

It sounds so simple and straightforward when you describe it, but the secret sauce at the core of the SSHD platform is sophisticated software that keeps track of frequently used data and stores it in the fast, solid state portion of the system. Seagate is the only hard drive company currently offering an SSHD, and its secret sauce is called Adaptive Memory™ technology. The results are impressive, delivering boot times and overall system responsiveness far in excess of systems using traditional hard drives and very close to the results of the much more expensive SSD-based systems.

High performance, lots of capacity and a price that works

This win-win combination of performance, capacity and affordability has huge possibilities for computing. In fact, even mainstream technology analysts agree. IDC, a leader in tracking and forecasting the computer storage market, recently recognised and began forecasting SSHD technology as a unique category. They estimate that penetration in the laptop computer market will reach 33% by 2016 and deliver a combined annual growth rate of 162.4% between 2011 and 2016.1

Once in a while, a new technology comes along that just seems to make sense. The speed you want, the capacity you need, at a price you can afford. Solid state hybrid drives provide all three.

Learn more about the innovation and products on Seagate's Solid State Hybrid Technology page.


1 IDC, “Worldwide Hard Disk Drive 2012-2016 Forecast: The Industry Hits the Reset Button,” IDC No. 233547, Volume 1, March 2012.


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