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Seagate Announces First Hybrid Hard Drive 243

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the closer-to-instant-gratification dept.
writertype writes "Today, Seagate announced about a dozen new products, including its first hybrid laptop hard drive that includes a 256-Mbyte flash chip to save power and speed up the time a notebook recovers from hibernation. Interestingly, the new Momentus 5400 PSD has also exceeded earlier estimates of hybrid hard-drive performance, which said that such drives would add an extra hour to the typical battery life of a notebook PC."
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Seagate Announces First Hybrid Hard Drive

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  • by Alex P Keaton in da (882660) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:39PM (#15488682) Homepage
    Will these qualify me for a tax deduction?
  • by hoggoth (414195) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:43PM (#15488710) Journal
    > Seagate's pushbutton drive is capable of storing all of the following, combined: a 25-DVD movie collection, 15,000-song music collection, 15,00-photo image library, 50-hours worth of video, and 50 computer games, with 300GB left over

    Bah, these measurements tell me nothing.
    How many Libraries Of Congress can I store on this thing?! That's what I need to know!
    • by Pantero Blanco (792776) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @02:02PM (#15488867)
      Seriously. 15,000 songs in midi format, 15,000 50x50 photos, 50 hours of low-bitrate video, and 50 text adventures don't take up much space at all.

      I always wonder how they're counting the "DVD movies"...Raw and untranscoded? Transcoded to a 700MB avi? A direct copy of the DVD to your hard drive?
      • Here's the math... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by codemaster2b (901536) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @03:44PM (#15489633)
        These were their working definitions:
        - 4 games/8GB or 2GB/game
        - 8hrs video/8GB or 1GB/hr video
        - 133 hrs music/8GB or 60MB/hr or 128kbit
        - 2560 photos/8GB or 3.2MB/photo


        Thus here is the math: - 750GB HDD - 300 GB left over
        - 450 GB HDD = 15000 songs + 1500 photo + 50hrs video + 50 games + 25 DVDs
        - 450 GB HDD = 60GB songs + 5GB photo + 50GB video + 100GB games + 25 DVDs
        - 235 GB HDD = 25 DVDs
        - 1 DVD = 9.4 GB

        I guess they really mean it. Of course, the only way you're going to get a DVD onto your hard drive is through... um... antiquated software.
  • Will it work? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Umbral Blot (737704) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:44PM (#15488716) Homepage
    Hibernation works by writing the contents of the RAM to the hard drive, so this would only work if you had = 256 MB RAM. I don't think too many new systems meet that requirement, and even less will after Vista comes out. Similarly if you want to save time on boot-up you would need to store all the necessary system files in that space, and few modern operating systems can cram themselves into that space.
    • Re:Will it work? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ThisNukes4u (752508) * <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ippoct}> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:49PM (#15488768) Homepage
      But if you have 512mb of RAM, and even if only half of that is in the flash memory after hibernation, you're still saving ~ half the ammount of data that would otherwise have to be written and read from the disk, which is more likely than not a very substantial speedup and power savings versus no flash memory at all.
      • Re:Will it work? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdotNO@SPAMnexusuk.org> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @02:03PM (#15488873) Homepage
        When you hibernate, much of the stuff in memory can be dumped to the swap partition rather than to the "hibernate file". This means that on resume it can be swapped back in at a later time when it's actually needed rather than swapping it all in at once. So it's very likley that all the stuff that actually needs to be loaded immediately at resume time can fit into the flash memory.

        What I want to know is what's the point in integrating the flash into the hard drive rather than just having it as an independent device that can be used how the software sees fit?
        • Re:Will it work? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ivan256 (17499) *
          What I want to know is what's the point in integrating the flash into the hard drive rather than just having it as an independent device that can be used how the software sees fit?

          That requires software modification. As we know, most users are running either the current incarnation or the previous incarnation of Microsoft Windows. A change to Windows that would use such a device would be two versions out, which means three PC lifecycles before said seperate flash device has any signifigant market share.

          In o
          • Re:Will it work? (Score:2, Informative)

            by armitage_23 (168577)
            If you'd read the article, you'd know that the non-volitile memory only works with Windows Vista.

            On 2000 or XP, the drive will act like a normal drive, albeit with more cache.
          • So what?

            Windows doesn't know how to do software RAID either, but Nvidia's drivers and BIOS provide that. Yes, it sucks that Windows is proprietary, but if you went to MS and said "We'd like to improve your OS for you", I think they'd jump at the chance, and they'd help you (help them) any way they could.
            • Re:Will it work? (Score:3, Informative)

              by ivan256 (17499) *
              Virtualizing devices is something that is easy to do in a device driver.

              Tasks that require knowledge of what data means without cooperation from the software generating the IO are difficult or impossible to do in a device driver depending on the task. It would be hard, where hard is a relative term in the context of software raid being easy, to accelerate hibernation in a block device driver. It would be impossible to do it well.

              Yes, I write storage device drivers for a living, and have personally implement
        • Re:Will it work? (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Stellian (673475)
          Also, the best part of the memory of a 512MB OR 1GB Laptop is free under light usage like a word processor and Winamp. Well, not actually free, any free memory is used as disk cache for reading, but that can be discarded.
          Also, many of the memory pages are mapped as "read-only", for example all executable files running. Those do not need to be swapped out or written to the hibernate file - they can be discarded and read back again from the hard-drive when the thread executing them becomes active.

          As an extra
          • Suspend2 for Linux will do lzo compression before writing to disk. Also, I believe they're moving towards being able to store/resume an image to/from anywhere, and have the resume operation be triggered in userspace (from an initrd).

            Also, with a fair amount of memory on a laptop and a good filesystem (or Laptop Mode on Linux), you don't need this Flash device to avoid using the disk. Problem is, I've never really gotten it to cache much of the music, although it will avoid writing until it has to, even if
        • Re:Will it work? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Ender Ryan (79406)
          What I want to know is what's the point in integrating the flash into the hard drive rather than just having it as an independent device that can be used how the software sees fit?
          Compatibility and ease of integrating into existing systems I'd assume.

          • Compatibility and ease of integrating into existing systems I'd assume.

            Compatability really doesn't count since it requires specific support in Vista, so they could've implemented it to use a completely separate flash device rather than one that's built into a drive.

            I'm taking the "ease of integration" thing with a large pinch of salt too - if this is primarily for notebooks then you can more or less discount upgrades (how many people really upgrade the drive in their notebook?). So this will be installed
      • But I, and soon Vista users, have 1GB of RAM, and I doubt that I am using 256 of it (I usually have a lot of apps open when I hibernate, as this is the point of hibernation, that you don't have to stop what you are doing when you want to turn off the computer).
    • by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @02:11PM (#15488940)
      Hibernation works by writing the contents of the RAM to the hard drive, so this would only work if you had = 256 MB RAM. I don't think too many new systems meet that requirement, and even less will after Vista comes out

      Not to mention your average notebook hard drive these days is fully capable of pushing 20+MB/sec for the linear read a "resume" requires, unless the hibernation file is fragmented. Even fairly expensive media like Sandisk Compact Flash "Extreme III" cards for digital cameras can't hit that, and one of those (1GB) costs about the same as a 100GB hard drive. Silly.

      My Macbook by default hibernates, but I found a setting to flip that off so that it "sleeps" like it should (involve the 'defaults' command, I forget exactly.) Now it takes about 2 seconds to 'wake up'. Ironically enough, hibernation takes longer than it takes to boot (about 25-30 seconds) and the scale has probably been tipped even further in favor of "booting" with another GB of ram I just added; by my rough calculation it'd take well over a minute if most memory was in use at time of hybernation (maybe the OS clears out all disk cache before doing it- you'd hope so.)

      Hibernation is for when your battery is pretty much dead and the laptop wakes up to hibernate before it looses the contents of RAM due to battery failure...and can people REALLY not wait the time it takes to boot or wake up from hibernation and copy the data back into RAM? Yeesh.

      This seems like an attempt to save themselves in a market they're just not competitive in. From all accounts I've seen (and personal experience), Seagate's ATA-drive reliability is in the trashcan these days; the 7200.8 was a fiasco, and the 7200.9 doesn't seem much better. IBM sold off their drive business (which was a market leader in almost all segments) after the Deskstar/Deathstar fiasco, but Hitachi seems to be doing fabulously. I had a 7200.9 300GB drive that died within 12 hours of operation. It's been RMA'd, and the replacement will be sold on Craigslist or similar. In the meantime, a shiny new, cheaper, cooler-running, quieter Samsung Spinpoint is sitting in its place.

      I think Seagate has seen the writing on the wall- hence the merger with Maxtor. I would imagine you'll see them merge Seagate/Maxtor technology in their ATA line and sell exclusively under Maxtor, and Seagate will go back to being a mostly SCSI brand, as their reputation there seems intact.

      • Congrats, your post gives the impression you're basing your opinion of Seagate quality just on a bad experience with one 7200.9 drive. How very scientific and valid your statistics are. StorageReview.com is much more comprehensive.
        • Although I like the 5 year warranty and will probably buy their drives in the future exclusively because of that (I have a fair number of drives, replacement costs do add up) I did have to wait a little bit over a month and a half for them to get a replacement 300 gig drive in stock and they still didn't have the drive available when I called, complained and sent me a 300 gig 10k scsi drive. Hard to be pissed about that, but to me it looks like they have had beaucoup rmas on the 7200.9 drives.
    • Exactly what I thought when I saw this. I think it might be better to have something like hybrid RAM if its just for doing hibernation, that way when you upgrade it still works. Hell, you can even save the whole state of your RAM from time to time if you want, to help recover from crashes.

      It sounds like this would be very good though (as long as the size is enough to hibernate) so that when battery runs realy low the system has no chance of failing before the hibernation save is complete.
    • I don't know how they implemented this hybrid drive, and I don't know how much integration with the OS it does.

      But I can say that if you did integrate with the OS, then you wouldn't necessarily need to cram all the system files into that space; you'd only need to cram all the system file pages that your system uses to boot. I have no idea how large this set is, except that it is bounded on the upper end by the total file size you thought would have to go in, but my intuition is that it's a lot smaller. (Win
    • "Similarly if you want to save time on boot-up you would need to store all the necessary system files in that space, and few modern operating systems can cram themselves into that space."

      Not true. Flash memory is faster than hard drives (both in "seek times" and in raw transfer speed), so this would allow the core operating system files to be transfered quicker. As well, hard drives typically take a few seconds to "spin up" before being available to load data off of -- so this could also have the added

    • I don't see why computers should write the RAM to swap/hd. Why not simply keep the ram powered and the data retained, but turn off all other system and sub-system components? Is there a technical limitation to doing this? I'm sure there is a break point where the time spent writing to disk uses less battery than powering the ram, but couldn't there then be two types of sleep?
      • Windows XP already gives you the choice* of standby and hibernate. Standby keeps the memory and other components powered at a minimal level. Hibernate writes the contents of RAM to disk and shuts the system off. The difference is in battery life. Standby consumes some small amount of power; hibernate consumes virtually none. You can't swap a fresh battery in while your laptop is on standby (unless you're plugged into AC power or you have two battery slots) but you can while your laptop is hibernating.

        *
    • "Hibernation works by writing the contents of the RAM to the hard drive, so this would only work if you had = 256 MB RAM. "

      True, 256mb isn't enough to hibernate off of... however, what if the hibernation method were revised a little? If the OS were to clean out it memory caches (modern OS's cache just about everything -- disk, network, applications, etc.) and then only use as much hibernation space as is actually being used in memory? My workstation has 2 gigs of memory, but rarely am I actively using

    • Re:Will it work? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LnxAddct (679316) <sgk25@drexel.edu> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @02:37PM (#15489150)
      That is kind of like saying L2 cache is pointless because you can't fit 4 gigs of memory into it. Used wisely, this 256MB could be very useful.
      Regards,
      Steve
    • Hibernation works by swapping out every possible page, then the remaining memory contents is written to the hard drive. You don't need your RAM to be 256MB or smaller to see the performance boost, you only need the system pages to be that small, because you can be fully awake from hibernation without swapping those pages back in. That takes us to the other thing you said: most modern operating systems *do* fit in 256MB. At least, their text segments and essential data segments do. 256MB is actually *mammoth
    • You can compress the memory dump so it takes up less space. If you achieve a 2 to 1 ratio, you can cram 512 megs of RAM into 256 megs of flash. You also invalidate any buffers and caches you may have active so that only programs and data is dumped.

      If Munin is right about my computer, there are 341 megs serving as caches and 51 megs used as buffers. If I am reading the graph correctly, I am using just over 400 megs for programs and working data. I am not touching the swap file.

      Another optimization would be t
    • > this would only work if you had = 256 MB RAM. I don't think too many new systems meet that requirement

      I live in a world where most computers around me have at least 1 gig of ram these days. Even Dell's bottom feeder computers have 512 base with frequent 1 gig upgrades for free....
  • by WoTG (610710) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:45PM (#15488730) Homepage Journal
    The PR blurb is a little light on the details. Does anyone know if there will be speed benefits (or, IMHO, less likely power benefits) for existing laptops? I.e. should I look forward to giving my laptop a bit of a boost with one of these drives? I know that Vista is supposed to have a lot of code to really benefit from hybrid drives... but I imagine that at least some benefits might be available to XP or Linux.

    Does anyone smarter than me know more about these drives?
  • by also-rr (980579) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:47PM (#15488757) Homepage
    This brings back a memory of a very, very, very long time ago when I was fortunate enough to get to touch a computer that had its root filesystem on a 250mb solid state disk, so that it only had to touch the much slower mechanical drives infrequently. For it's day the thing was a monster with speed that made my own systems seem inadequate in every way. So what did we do with all of that raw, untamed power? Played nethack.
  • lifetime of flash? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Chirs (87576)

    I'm a bit worried about how long that flash memory is going to last. It's got a limited number of write cycles, and presumably everything going to the drive goes through the flash cache.
    • "presumably everything going to the drive goes through the flash cache."

      Doubtful, given the wear-and-tear issue you point out.

      I rather think the flash cache is to store the RAM data when the machine goes into hibernation, and to load back in quickly when the machine comes out of hibernation. Without flash, you would have to wait for the hard drive to spin up before it can retrieve the RAM store.
    • by fredistheking (464407) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @02:15PM (#15488959)
      With defect management it shouldn't matter. There is no way the average number of writes per sector is going to get anywhere near the limit. If a particular sector is getting close, simply switch its address with one that isn't used very often.

      Since Seagate is already defect managing the disk with their firmware, I don't see it being a big challange to have it defect manage the flash as well.

    • Worry away, but I don't think you're going to lose any precious data any time soon. I can give you two reasons why:

      1) "When compared to a hard disk drive, a further limitation is the fact that flash memory has a finite number of erase-write cycles (most commercially available flash products are guaranteed to withstand 1 million programming cycles)" (Flash memory limitations [wikipedia.org]).

      2) 4 years of 24/7 operations is 35,040 hours of use. That's about 28.5 writes/hour, or a write every other minute for 4 years. Cha
    • The write speed of the fastest flash cards isn't that much different from a good hard drive. It doesn't make too much sense to use it as a cache for this purpose. However, since I can't RTFA I don't know if they're using a different type of flash memory than what is common used on flash memory cards.

  • What's the difference between a 'hybrid' drive and a drive with a really big cache?
    • Cretin. :)

      The flash on hybrid hard drives is used to store data (say a copy of system RAM when hibernating) after the machine is off...think solid state storage like a USB drive, not solid state like system RAM.

    • What's the difference between a 'hybrid' drive and a drive with a really big cache?

      The article highlights faster resume times from hibernation. In that case the power has been off, which would empty the cache.

    • What's the difference between a 'hybrid' drive and a drive with a really big cache?

      Cache is volatile, flash memory in a hybrid drive isn't. Thus a hybrid drive could save time when you boot, while a large cache won't.

    • Hybrid drives have a petrol engine that starts up whenever you need to actually use them, and draw power the rest of the time. :)
    • In addition to what everybody else said, Flash is very cheap, so you can have it in quantities beyond normal Cache sizes. The advantage of that is you don't have to spin up the hard disk itself so often.
  • Death of Harddrives? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@optonli ... inus threevowels> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:51PM (#15488782) Journal

    The Momentus 5400 PSD is Seagate's first hybrid hard drive, incorporating 256 Mbytes of flash memory that serves as a fast cache for booting and saving data. When booting the PC, the operating system loads data from the flash memory first, speeding bootup times and negating the need to quickly spin up the drive, a power-consuming process.

    Given the rapid pace of development of flash memory, how long until hard drives are gone altogether? It would seem the breakout of flash memory in the marketplace is bringing us one step closer to relaible instant-on systems, with none of the tedious waiting for drives to spin up.

    • by flooey (695860) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @02:07PM (#15488900)
      Given the rapid pace of development of flash memory, how long until hard drives are gone altogether? It would seem the breakout of flash memory in the marketplace is bringing us one step closer to relaible instant-on systems, with none of the tedious waiting for drives to spin up.

      I'd imagine that hard drives will go away only once they find something akin to flash that isn't limited in the number of writes. Having a limit of a million writes is completely reasonable for iPods, cameras, and other devices where you do infrequent large writes. Having /tmp, home directories, or so forth on flash memory could burn it out pretty fast, though.

      Having a flash device for the OS and programs and a hard drive for general purpose storage, though, that I could see being feasible in not too long.
      • by Surt (22457) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @02:38PM (#15489153) Homepage Journal
        Some flash is up to about 3 million writes already. At 10 million writes the problem is effectively solved, they'll be able to warranty their flash for continuous writes for about 5 years at that point, matching the warranty on your hard drive.

        The write limit is not going to be the barrier to replacing hard drives for nearly as long as price and size are going to be.
        • 10 million writes, writing once every 5 seconds, not accounting for defect balancing, leaves you at about 578 days. If the disk is constantly full, this will be a problem, unless it's cheap and easily hot swappable, or if the disk is under 50% utilization for its life. I'd still probably keep logs on a regular magnetic platter-based drive.
          • by Surt (22457)
            You have to factor in defect balancing because you can't come anywhere close to writing the entire memory every 5 seconds. It takes closer to 30 minutes.
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @02:08PM (#15488917)
      Flash is getting better at an amazing rate but it's got a looooong way to go to catch HDs. You need more capacity, much less cost, and also higher speeds. While flash has faster random access, it can't hit the sustained transfer rates of HDs, at least not the normal flash RAM you find for sale everywhere.

      I imagine the hybrid HDs will be the first step. Try and get the best of both worlds. A small flash store for frequently accessed thigns to get lightning fast random access, a large magnetic disk so you don't compramise on storage. Windows Vista is apparantly going to be pushing this rather hard. MS notes support for it as one of the features, and even if you lack a hybrid HD, you can get something similar by giving it a USB flash drive and instructiong Vista to use it as an app cache. Parts of programs are then put on the flash to speed load times.

      I think that's the kind of thing we'l see for a number of years here until flash gets cheaper.
    • Hard drives aren't going away soon, the same way that tapes aren't. Instant on isn't necessary for a lot of people, a lot of people never boot or shutdown their machines. Flash will instead take a certain segment of the hard drive market, where portability and power draw are more important than capacity.
    • ...relaible instant-on systems, with none of the tedious waiting for drives to spin up.

      Good question, but not quite the right one. Most of the time you wait for your computer isn't the hard drive spinning up, but the OS transferring information from the hard drive to RAM (and to other parts of the hard drive). Flash RAM will do this faster because it won't have to wait for the HD's heads to access a particular part of the spinning drive, but it will still take time.

      We'll never have the same instant-o

  • I'm not surprised (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:53PM (#15488796)
    I've been playing with Damn Small Linux using a 633 MHz pentium motherboard (attic-ware) with a 12 volt power supply and a 256 MB flash card. It uses an average of 1.5 amps. (monitor not included) When my ancient Thinkpad is accessing the hard drive, it draws about 4 amps. Some of the current is driving the LCD but my guess is that when the hard drive is being used, it soaks up about half the power. If you could avoid using the hard drive, you could just about double your battery life compared to what you would get if you were using it all the time.

    Having said the above, it occurs to me that you could use some of the techniques on a regular laptop that Damn Small Linux (DSL) uses. Flash memory can only be written to a finite number of times. In order not to kill the flash memory, DSL runs entirely in memory. (If you want to write to the flash memory, you have to explicitly mount it.) So, if you were to tailor your operating system to avoid using the hard drive the same way DSL avoids using the flash, you should be able to significantly increase your battery life without special hardware.
  • by techmuse (160085) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:59PM (#15488837)
    It used to be that flash memory only worked reliably for a limited number of write cycles. Is this still the case. If not, will this greatly limit the life span of these drives?
  • by mary_will_grow (466638) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @02:00PM (#15488848)
    If you look at "top" closely, you'll see even if only half of your ram is stuffed with porn and chat programs, the kernel is still making use of that remaining RAM. It would be moronic to just leave RAM sitting unoccupied. A lot of it is used for IO buffering, including your hard drive. So why not just use this mechanism? Why is it, from an IO-buffering-OS-user's perspectiive, any different having that info sitting in flash on the hard drive, instead of in your ram?

    OK I guess I can think of a few reasons...

    The flash wont need refresh cycles to keep its data intact, so that gives you a power reduction...
    The flash can still retain its state even when you shut down, so "wakeups" should be faster..
    The hard drive is in charge of the caching, taking some thinky think load off of the CPU.

    but from a performance perspective, it seems that Linux would do better with 256MB of faster, closer, shinier RAM instead of a wad of flash.. Plus your caching mechanism can be improved without having to buy a new hard drive.

    • "Does this matter when you have a smart OS?"

      You missed the point, this idea was introduced at the "2004 Windows Hardware Engineering Conference".

      Perhaps Microsoft will use this memory space to load such advanced technologies as anti-virus, anti-spyware, defrag, or other useful novel ideas...at least to the Windows-world?

      Basically what this boils down to is if you have dumb software, you need smart hardware.
    • I guess I don't see why they're using flash. You'd think that they could accomplish it with some RAM module with its own seperate battery backing (like a RAID card), and then have the disk writes delayed to some optimum amount to minimize power consumption as well as being used as a pre-fetched RAM cache with the same optimization, with the read/write split dynamically reallocated as needed.
    • Write caching. You don't want to leave data in your OS cache unwritten for very long. If the system crashes (hardware or software failure) then all of that data will be lost. If you start writing data while the drive is spun down, then it has to spin up (lots of power) and then write it, then spin down a bit later (using a fair bit of power all the time it is spinning). This design could, conceivably, write the little trickles of data (4K here, 16K there) that would otherwise keep the disk spun-up to th
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They also launched the DB35 series, supposed to be optimised for DVRs - quiet acoustics, capacities from 80GB-750GB, optimised for sequential streaming (and apparently up to ten simultaneous streams), long-haul reliability.

    I might want to check those out for personal storage too. It sounds like they might make a nice, quiet, fileserver for my home, with the right case (I was thinking P180) and components.

    There's this interesting snippet, though, which concerns me, in the DB35 series' product datasheet [seagate.com] (PDF,
  • Flashy Mobiles (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @02:05PM (#15488887) Homepage Journal
    I've got an Dell notebook with only 10GB (IDE) HD. I'd love to replace it with Flash cards. They're about $45:2GB up to 4GB, in multiple formats. A bank of CF/SDIO/USB slots, or just an IDE/whatever adapter, plus the cards, would fit inside the current drive's slot. And offer much better power, weight and heat loads. With hotswappable filesystems, upgradeable in small chunks and pluggable into other devices, carryable in pockets.

    I don't see how <20GB HDs have any place in the portable market anymore (outside of tiny niche multimedia producers), as even $35 80GB HDs are overkill for most people who network, as most everyone does. If every notebook, handheld, iPod, phone and other mobile device used Flash instead of HDs, Flash prices at that industry scale would drop, capacities would multiply, and $5:GB up to 32 or 64GB would be common. While much of the rest of the cost of the device would be lower without extreme measures to accommodate the hungry, inefficient HD.
    • If you want a Flash drive..... buy one ;-)

      http://www.bitmicro.com/products_edisk_25_ide.php [bitmicro.com]

      I'm not 100% certain where you can purchase them, but when I looked into it ~6 months ago I did find some avaliable for online ordering.
      • Those high-capacity industrial drives are way overkill for what I was talking about. They cost way more than the $20:GB Flash cards I mentioned, and aren't available in small capacities (and therefore low prices). And their capacities are large enough that they don't save enough on weight or power.

        Let me know when you find a simple IDE/Flash adapter that I can plug the cheap commodity Flash stuff into, to replace my 10GB IDE HD.
        • Well, here are three posibilities. None are perfect, but I'm guessing they are workable:

          1. Desktop usage:
          http://www.monoprice.com/products/search.asp?keywo rd=2105 [monoprice.com]
          And a 2 or 4 port PATA raid card,
          or
          http://www.topmicrousa.com/st-123cf.html [topmicrousa.com]
          and a SATA capable motherboard or SATA raid card.

          The second has the advantage of being easily hotswappable.

          Disadvantage: Not as cheap as you might like. Probably $50-$100 investment required.

          2. Notebook usage:
          http://americanesuperstore.stores.yahoo.net/cfad-0 03.html [yahoo.net]
          Get two
          • Re:Flashy Mobiles (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Doc Ruby (173196)
            Those look good, especially the cheap PCMCIA/CF adapters. With a $175 8GB card, I'm probably done.

            I think there is a demand for the benefits. But I also think notebook dealers don't market them (educate the market) because margins are still higher on 2.5" HDs, especially the ones bundled with new notebooks. Just unbundling those HDs opens competition from other HD vendors. And without market education, the unfamiliar products will find only niche markets, which also decreases dealers' economy of monolithic
  • Does the drive automatically know and manage which files to put into flash(i.e. like a smart cache), or is this down to the OS to explicitly add/delete files in the flash?

    If its the drive, then that sucks because the drive would need to know about the filesystems in use, and chances are it would only support Microsoft filesystems.

    If its the OS that manages which files to put there, then it still sucks, as the drive and flash are combined.
    It would be much better to have the flash as a separate component. Apa
    • Does the drive automatically know and manage which files to put into flash(i.e. like a smart cache), or is this down to the OS to explicitly add/delete files in the flash?

      From the links (which don't give much detail), it sounds like the drive "looks" like a normal HDD to the machine. It just happens to have a nonvolatile cache built in, which means it can start serving files even before it spins up (which most likely explains the faster booting and restoring from hibernation); and for certain types of an
  • Does modern flash memory degrade more quickly per write than hard drives?

    How much faster is flash storage memory than hard drives?

    While 256MB would still speed boots for hibernate files larger than 256MB, current boot speed of a 256MB hibernate file from a hard drive is nearly instantaneous anyway, negating any real value to this. The real value would only kick in for systems with more than a gig of memory.
  • by edmicman (830206) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @02:26PM (#15489024) Homepage Journal
    When can I get a hydrogen fuel cell hard drive? Or does it use regernative kinetic energy from the platters spinning to generate power?
  • Using flash chips as harddrive replacement comes up now and then, even if in this case it would be just a cache. But what about flash lifetime? Last time I checked a flash chip could only be erased something like 200.000 times, which could be used up quickly in normal operation. Or would the flash area show up separately?
    In that case it may be easier to get one of those IDE/compact flash adaptors and have the flash as a separate device.
  • by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwin@amira n . us> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @02:41PM (#15489181) Homepage Journal
    1. Acquire Flash memory. USB or whatever, it doesn't matter.
    2. Insure you have the correct interface connections to the computer (USB port, USB cable, CF/SD drive, weird built-in hybrid device).
    3. Boot Linux
    4. Find location of Flash device. A modern distro will point this out to you on the desktop.
    5. Use your GUI partitioner to define the flash device as your swap space. Be sure you purchased a flash device with size > system ram.
    6. Suspend2Disk really, really fast.

    Also, given a reasonably long up-time, enjoy the perks of a system with high-speed swap space. Applications, data, kernel; whatever! It all gets faster! Be sure to crank up your swappiness value for maximum effect; this'll have Linux swapping out just about everything it can get its hands on.

    Given a modern flash device, with 1 million or so read/write cycles, and defect balancing, even under very high-usage you should get years of use.
  • First, the rewrite limit on flash nowdays is in the low millions... so even if you could only rewrite a million times, and you did it 100 times a day (about once every minute and a half)... the drive would last over 27 years... Not sure why everyone keeps bringing up this longevity issue. Sure, don't put temp files or virtual memory on it... every time Windows pulled a thrash maneuver you'd lose 8% of your HD lifespan ;) ... but for storing OS boot files and commonly used system files, the lifespan thing i
  • All this new harddrive tech is cool and all, but what I want more than anything else, including more and more massive storage, is better reliability.

    In the past year or so, I've had, literally, 50% of all drives I have purchased fail. Mostly Western Digitals, FWIW.

    For that matter, I've had several expensive raid controllers fail too. This shit is really starting to piss me off.
    • All this new harddrive tech is cool and all, but what I want more than anything else, including more and more massive storage, is better reliability.

      In the past year or so, I've had, literally, 50% of all drives I have purchased fail. Mostly Western Digitals, FWIW.

      For that matter, I've had several expensive raid controllers fail too. This shit is really starting to piss me off.


      Odd, because I haven't seen a drive fail in quite a while personally (and I probably have 20+ spindles sitting next to me in
  • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @03:21PM (#15489475) Homepage Journal
    At a max of about 2.5W on write, a notebook hard drive isn't the biggest power draw in a notebook. Idle power is maybe half that.

    You have the screen (flourescent backlight) (likely tens of watts) and the CPU (Intel Core Duo is 31W), probably the GPU too. Cutting the CPU to an LV chip (Core Duo LV is 15W) might give you a two or four more hours, depending on the display and the GPU. Don't tell me that saving one watt is going to save an hour of power on battery time.
  • oh really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dirtyhippie (259852) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @05:57PM (#15490583) Homepage
    Samsung forecast that the first hybrid drives would ... reduce power consumption by about 9 percent overall, increasing a notebook's battery life by about an hour.

    Uh... Someone in Samsung's PR division does not realize that the typical laptop does not get 11 hours of battery life. There has got to be a way to hold PR folks accountable for the stupid and wrong things they say.

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