To keep pace with rapid advances in processor technology, hard disc drives (HDDs) have had to evolve. Solid state drives (SSDs) have generated much interest as a solution for more efficient storage and higher productivity. But while SSD technology has proved to deliver significantly improved performance and higher CPU usage, it comes with an exceptionally high price tag. SSD may be a viable solution for systems limited to 64GB – 128GB of storage, but most commercial notebook, laptop and desktop PCs require higher capacity. That puts SSD technology far out of the reach of typical storage budgets for these systems.
Solid state hybrid drives (SSHDs) can fill these performance and capacity gaps cost effectively . They integrate the speed of SSD and the capacity of HDD at a price-performance point far below SSDs and just slightly above HDDs.
Testing second-generation SSHD technology performance
SSHDs have been tested in comparison with both traditional HDDs and SSDs using both laptop boot times and application launches. Both approaches effectively demonstrate the linkage between retrieving data from mass storage and delivering this data to the CPU.
Seagate created a test bed using three identical non-branded notebook computers. Each was exactly the same in every way except for the microprocessor used. One system incorporated an Intel Core i3™ processor; the second, a Core i5™; the third, a Core i7™. All were equipped with 4GB of DRAM storage and the Windows 7 operating system. Each system was then tested for boot time and application load times while using a 7,200-rpm HDD, an SSD and an SSHD.
Watch the video to see how SSHD delivers nearly the same speed of SSD at a price point closer to HDD.
A subset of the results from these tests for the Core i7™ based systems are represented in Table 1 below:
These test results reveal key evidence demonstrating the performance benefits associated with the use of solid state memory.
SSDs and SSHDs both demonstrate a significant positive system level performance benefit over 7,200-rpm HDDs. Furthermore, SSHD provides near parity performance to stand-alone SSD.
SSHDs scale well as processor speeds increase to derive even more benefits.
These findings are reinforced in the following PCMark Vantage score focused on evaluating relative performance for 5,400-rpm HDD, 7,200-rpm HDD and SSHD.
How it Works
The tool that enables this fusion of SSD and HDD technology, resulting in improved performance, is called Adaptive MemoryTM technology. Seagate developed this technology with a focus on delivering the performance benefits incorporated into a fully backward compatible storage device. In other words, it looks and behaves just like a traditional HDD to a host computer, while delivering the performance of an SSD. Read Adaptive Memory: The Secret Sauce in Solid State Hybrid Drives to learn more.
What SSHD means for productivity
In an Intel–sponsored study of more than 300 PC decision-makers at North American companies, Forrester Research found that these companies achieved, among other benefits, improved employee productivity, faster response times and more informed decisions as a result of deploying notebook computers (laptops) to users. The study found that “notebook users work an average of 51 minutes more than comparative desktop users per work day, helping drive these benefits to new levels across the entire organisation”.1
These impressive results are based on PCs using traditional HDDs for storage. SSHD solutions can act as a productivity multiplier to produce even stronger results. Let’s assume that average computer use per day is five hours. If 10 per cent of this work is dependent on data access from mass storage (a very conservative estimate) that means that 30 minutes per day of a computer’s operation is directly dependent on the performance of storage. So conservatively, an SSHD can easily deliver six minutes per day of improved productivity by multiplying that 30 minutes by a twenty per cent gain in speed. And these productivity results are affordable.
SSHD pays for itself
An SSHD drive costs more than a traditional hard drive, but delivers higher productivity for a quick return on the investment. Even assuming a high estimated price premium of US$80 for an SSHD drive over a standard HDD, an office worker making US$25 per hour can pay for it in about 32 days just by being more productive. And from that point on the productivity boost is free.
The future is hybrid
The ultimate solution for meeting the needs for improved storage performance and capacity, while simultaneously achieving the budget constraints of IT organisations, will be a blend of SDD and traditional hard drive technology. SSHDs effectively merge these technologies, providing storage devices that behave like traditional HDD modules, while delivering one of the most compelling value propositions that the storage market has seen in years: SSD–like performance and hard drive capacity at a price that works.
Leading PC vendors choose SSHD
The Seagate® Momentus® XT drive with hybrid storage and Adaptive Memory technology is available for the Dell Latitude laptop PC. Learn more by visiting the Dell website.
Learn more about the innovation and products on Seagate's Solid State Hybrid Technology page.
1Forrester Research, “Increase Productivity by Providing Notebooks beyond the Road Warriors”, October 2008