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Toshiba to sell own hybrid drive for laptops

The 1TB drive will sell for about $140

September 25, 2012 09:00 AM ET

Computerworld - The company that invented NAND flash, Toshiba, plans to become the third hard drive manufacturer to offer a hybrid drive.

Hybrids combine a spinning disk with flash cache to offer near solid-state drive (SSD) performance at a fraction of the cost.

Toshiba said its MQ01ABDH series hybrid drive will initially come in a 2.5-in. form-factor targeted for use in Ultrabooks in the fourth quarter of this year - in time for holiday sales.

The drive comes in 750GB and 1TB capacities, and it has 8GB of NAND flash as well as 32MB of RAM.

Patty Kim, product marketing manager for Toshiba's Storage Device Division, said the new hybrid drive will meet or beat Intel's stringent performance requirements for Ultrabooks.

Currently, the only seller of hybrid drives for consumer products is Seagate, which has been shipping its Momentus XT since 2009. Seagate is currently on its third generation of the Hybrid drive, its first being the Momentus PSD, which it launched in 2007.

Seagate's most recent Momentus XT drive comes in capacities of 500GB and 750GB.

Earlier this month, Western Digital announced it is sending out samples of its hybrid drive to laptop manufacturers. Western Digital said it's 5mm-thick hybrid drive has 500GB of storage capacity. Other than that, Western Digital release little information on the drive.

Like Toshiba's upcoming hybrid, Seagate's Momentus XT also comes with 8GB of NAND flash (in the 750GB model, 4GB in the 500GB model) and 32GB of RAM. Other than having a top drive capacity of 1TB, Toshiba's drive differs from Seagate's in that it uses a 5400RPM, two-platter hard disk drive; Seagate's Momentus XT uses a 7200RPM, which uses more power, Toshiba claimed. Unfortunately, Toshiba didn't provide power use information on it drive.

Toshiba's new hybrid drive is expected to ship in Q4 of this year.

Both Toshiba's and Seagate's hybrid drives use the SATA 3.0 (6Gbps) interface.

Like Seagate's drive, the Toshiba hybrid comes in a standard z-height of 9.5-mm, or .37-in. thick.

Seagate's drive averages 1.3 watts of power during operation, and 1.1 watts while idle.

When it comes to performance, Toshiba was unable to provide performance metrics other than I/O's per second (IOPS) and seek times. Toshiba said its drive has an average seek time of 12 milliseconds, compared to the Momentus XT's 11ms read seek time and 13ms write time.

The Toshiba hybrid has a maximum 4,000 random IOPS using 4K block sizes. Without aid of the SSD element, the Toshiba hard dirve has a maximum data transfer speed of 1,469 Mbps or 184 MBps, said Kim.

"What we've done with our hybrid drive is fully married the benefits of Toshiba's knowledge of rotating media with the in-house expertise, IP and technology know-how in NAND flash," Kim said.

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