There are still a good chunk of users that haven’t fully given themselves over to the solid state evolution. Hybrid drives, a mesh of traditional spinning platter drive and solid state components, may be a little more appealing to some as they bring large capacities with some of the performance perks of an SSD. Large capacity solid state drives are still cost prohibitive for most so hybrids are also a viable, lower cost alternative. Until now, if your device (think Ultrabooks) could only fit 7mm height drives, you could only choose from a spinning platter drive or an SSD. Seagate’s third generation hybrid drive, what they term an SSHD, has not only slimmed down from 9.5mm height to 7mm height but also bumped performance and dropped the unit cost. The Seagate Laptop Thin 500 GB Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) retails for $83.57 shipped online, which is ~$26 more than what a standard Seagate Momentus Thin 5400.9 5400RPM hard drive as that drive retails for $57.71 shipped.
This third generation hybrid drive features 8GB of on board NAND and a 5400RPM platter drive that work in tandem using Seagate’s Adaptive Memory Technology (AMT). This technology identifies “hot” data or data that’s accessed most frequently and data which is tied into performance such as boot files. All of this is determined by way of a proprietary learning algorithm that analyzes usage patterns. Usually it takes 3-5 repetitions before identification of this data is hat cached for SSD-like performance. Obviously with only 8GB of NAND available, it has to prioritize what data should be cached – a process that is fluid and ongoing.
Having a look at the thin SSHD versus the last generation Momentus XT from above, you can see the same overall design and the length and width dimensions are congruent.
However, looking at them from the side, the difference in size is move obvious with a 2.5mm height difference. The Seagate Thin drives feature a 7mm z-height form factor that allows for thin chassis design for modern laptop computing.
Taking a peek at the solid state components of the drive, we can see a number of features including the controller, the NAND and the cache. The 64MB cache and the 8GB of NAND are both Samsung produced. This portion of the drive plugs right in to the main drive body and attached with a number of small screws.