Seagate rolls out hybrid disk, flash memory drive

First Momentus 5400 drives limited to Windows-based systems

Seagate Technology LLC on Monday rolled out its new Momentus 5400 PSD, or Power Savings Drive, hybrid disk drive, which combines disk storage with flash memory.

The 2.5-in. Momentus 5,400-rpm drive features 256MB flash cache memory and spins only 10% of the time while operational, noted Seagate officials. It is slated to begin shipping in volume for notebook PCs later this month.

Melissa Johnson, product marketing manager at Scotts Valley, Calif.-based Seagate, said the initial versions of the drive will run only with Microsoft Corp. Windows-based machines. However, she noted that the company is working to update the drive's natively built ReadyDrive technology to support non-Windows systems.

That limitation may stall the adoption of the Momentus 5400 and other nascent hybrid disk drives such as Intel Corp.'s Turbo Memory technology, remarked Jeff Janukowicz, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC.

"There have been concerns," said Janukowicz. "Hybrid is really targeted toward Vista-only systems, so there's been a lot of caution from the hard drive industry about adopting this until [hybrid technology] starts to get a little more mainstream."

Janukowicz noted that solid-state drive technology still carries a significant price premium compared with traditional hard drives, so Seagate is on the right track by bridging the two. He added that the hybrid technology makes the most sense for access-time and power-hungry mobile applications that "don't really translate all that well to the desktop environment."

Seagate said its hybrid drive can boot up 20% faster than standard drive technology, cuts energy consumption by 50% and improves mean time between failure (MBTF) by 50% compared with traditional drives.

Johnson said that the company expects to be offering hybrid versions of all Seagate desktop and enterprise hard drives over the next five to 10 years.

The Momentus 5400 has been qualified by Sony and by three other undisclosed major resellers, she noted.

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