Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Samsung's Hybrid Hard Drive Exposed 255

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the under-the-hood dept.
Erica Campbell writes "Samsung is preparing to release a new Flash memory-assisted computer hard drive that boasts improved performance, reduced energy consumption, a faster boot time, and better reliability. The new hybrid hard drive will be released around the same time as the upcoming Windows Vista operating system and will be one of the first hardware designed specifically to benefit from it."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Samsung's Hybrid Hard Drive Exposed

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Ship time (Score:5, Informative)

    by Teresita (982888) <badinage1@@@netzero dot net> on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:18PM (#16511749) Homepage
    Wonderful idea for the manufacturers, flash drives only get so many [wikipedia.org] read/write cycles before they go T.U. Not so good for the consumers.
  • by Utopia (149375) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:24PM (#16511775)
    Looks like Samsung and Microsoft designed this together.
    http://www.samsung.com/Products/HardDiskDrive/news /HardDiskDrive_20050425_0000117556.htm [samsung.com]

    It was on display at WinHEC in April 2005.

  • TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:25PM (#16511789)
    Sorry, don't know how to link to one of the Caches, but here is the text of the article:

    Samsung's HHD prototype
    Samsung is preparing to release a new Flash memory-assisted computer hard drive that boasts improved performance, reduced energy consumption, a faster boot time, and better reliability. The new hybrid hard drive will be released around the same time as the upcoming Windows Vista operating system and will be one of the first hardware designed specifically to benefit from it.

    Samsung's HHD - faster boot and resume on Vista
    In mid-May 2006, Samsung unveiled a prototype hybrid hard drive (HHD) at WinHEC, the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference. Samsung's prototype HHDs have a buffer of 128 or 256 MB, much larger than the 8-16 MB of cache in current hard drives. This new buffer differs from the existing cache buffer on hard drives not only in size but also in structure, composition, and qualities. Conventional cache is made out of volatile memory that is erased when the drive is powered down. HHDs add another layer of cache consisting of Flash memory that is non-volatile and can be accessed quickly when the drive is powered on. Adding a large buffer to a hard drive can also reduce the drive's power consumption, thereby increasing the battery life, and reducing the time required for the system to resume its operation after suspension. Indeed, boot or resume time will occur about twice as fast as conventional hard disk drives, saving 8-25 seconds, and laptop batteries will provide 20 - 30 minutes more power. Another added bonus of the HHD is the improved reliability due to less mechanical wear and tear.

    Samsung and other manufacturers are currently pursuing Solid State Drive (SSD) technology (to be covered in an upcoming TFOT article). Currently Flash prices are too high to allow SSDs to replace standard hard drives of any reasonable size and, although Flash prices are continually falling, it will be several years until such a drive will become affordable to most users. Here enters the near-term solution for enjoying improved performance at a reasonable price - the hybrid hard drive, combining the low cost and large storage capacity of conventional hard drive technology with quick and low-power Flash memory.

    Apart from the reduction in Flash memory prices, hard drive manufacturers such as Samsung believe that we are about to undergo a major storage revolution in the next few years due to the upcoming release of Windows Vista. This new operating system from Microsoft will introduce three new performance-enhancing technologies: SuperFetch, ReadyBoost, and ReadyDrive. According to Microsoft, "SuperFetch understands which applications you use most, and preloads these applications into memory, so your system is more responsive". Windows ReadyBoost allows users to use a removable Flash memory device such as a USB thumb drive to improve system performance. ReadyBoost retrieves data stored on the Flash memory more quickly than data stored on the hard disk, decreasing the interval until the PC responds. Windows ReadyDrive enables Vista-based PCs equipped with an HHD to boot up faster, resume from hibernate in less time, preserve battery power, and improve hard disk reliability.

    Hard drive platters won't have to spin as much
    Hard disk platters are components of hard disk drives that consist of circular rigid disks that store magnetic data. While the platters in conventional hard drives rotate most of the time, thereby consuming a great deal of power, the platters in HHDs are usually at rest, as if they were off. In HHDs, incoming data is generally written to the Flash buffer and any saved documents are saved to the buffer, instead of being written to the hard drive each time. Only when the Flash buffer is almost full or when the user accesses a new file that is not stored on the buffer, will the HHD platter rotate or "spin up". Thus, the battery power of laptops with HHDs is preserved, extending battery life.

    To learn more about Samsung's hybrid hard drive technology, TF
  • Re:Ship time (Score:5, Informative)

    by Surt (22457) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:31PM (#16511845) Homepage Journal
    The number of read/write cycles is now typically sufficient to write at full speed 24/7 for 3-4 years.

  • Re:Ship time (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:34PM (#16511879)
    "Excellent point."

    No, it isn't.
  • Spansion (Score:2, Informative)

    by sirra462 (827954) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @10:13PM (#16512193)
    Check out Spansion [spansion.com] if you want to support an American company. They are a spin off of AMD, and have some impressive technology when it comes to flash memory.
  • by RoundSparrow (341175) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @10:13PM (#16512197)
    Vista does support this - ReadyBoost - but USB2 isn't nearly as fast as SATA 300.

    Who knows how much benefit it really provides, but it sets the direction. Nice for the software to be ahead of the hardware.
  • Re:Flash (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @10:28PM (#16512333)
    What happens when the flash dies?

          The same thing that happens when your hard drive crashes - kiss the data goobye. That's what backups are for. You DO backup every day, don't you?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2006 @11:38PM (#16512727)
    Flash has LIMITED write life.

    The devices spread the data around to hide the limited write cycle life, and uses error correction to hide the limited write cycle life.

    At some point its worthless.

    Flash is idiotic for a backing store (virtual memory) based hard drive. And atomic-commit algorithms and other safety mechanisms for structure preservation and corruption avoidance such as "Journaling" only make the chatter worse.

    All the disk chatter destroys the lifespan of the flash part.

    Worse... flash is SLOW for lots of non-paralell-capable individual 512 byte requests, which typically are not spread across multiple flash parts.

    True, a megabyte read can be fast in flash, but lots of random 512 byte reads or writes are far slower than a modern hard drive STILL in 2006. (15,000 rpm scsi from 7 diff manufacturers for example).

    But the article is about hard drives... still.. its hopeless and foolish.

    people who use their computers a lot will have data corruption earlier... all due to flash problems
  • Re:Ship time (Score:5, Informative)

    by Phroggy (441) * <slashdot3@nospaM.phroggy.com> on Thursday October 19, 2006 @11:51PM (#16512803) Homepage
    What would be neat is if you could swap out flash drives in the event of a failure. Or upgrade the flash drive capacity. I'd be more interested in that than a permanently integrated flash drive. You're correct to be skeptical of its lifespan.

    Well then, good news for you: Vista supports a feature called ReadyBoost [microsoft.com], which can use just about any flash memory device (e.g. a cheap USB thumb drive) as a cache to improve performance.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:01AM (#16512851)
    "On the other hand, I never had 28 days uptime with windows!"

    Neither have I had an uptime so small with Windows XP. More like 280 days.
  • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:33AM (#16513005) Homepage Journal
    I've wanted to invest in Samsung and flash technology in general. Samsung seems to only be on the Asian markets, is this so?

    http://www.samsung.com/AboutSAMSUNG/ELECTRONICSGLO BAL/InvestorRelations/IRFAQs/StockDividend/index.h tm#a2 [samsung.com]

    It's listed in London and Luxemburg too, and in the US, you can buy stock through Citibank.

    It only took me a minute to find this information, it wasn't secret, hidden or hard to find. I only needed two clicks on the Samsung site.
  • Better than HDDs (Score:3, Informative)

    by ichigo 2.0 (900288) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:41AM (#16513033)
    AFAIK, the flash is only used for caching small files and for faster booting, all the data will eventually be stored on the HDD. Also, they assumably use algorithms that check the flash for bad sectors and marks them unusable if they stop functioning. HDDs also use similar methods, but a flash drive will be able to die more gracefully, as there is no mechanical parts that can fail abruptly.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:46AM (#16513067)
    Not true. If you write to ALL of the writable adressable area of a flashram , you will not get over 200,000 full writes on average despite the lies. In fact, the parts fail in 2 or 3 weeks of lab benchtests.

    The flash fanatics keep modding down these facts to -1 for some insane reason here.

    Flash has LIMITED write life.

    The devices spread the data around to hide the limited write cycle life, and uses error correction to hide the limited write cycle life.

    At some point its worthless.

    Flash is idiotic for a backing store (virtual memory) based hard drive. And atomic-commit algorithms and other safety mechanisms for structure preservation and corruption avoidance such as "Journaling" only make the chatter worse.

    All the disk chatter destroys the lifespan of the flash part.

    Worse... flash is SLOW for lots of non-paralell-capable individual 512 byte requests, which typically are not spread across multiple flash parts.

    True, a megabyte read can be fast in flash, but lots of random 512 byte reads or writes are far slower than a modern hard drive STILL in 2006. (15,000 rpm scsi from 7 diff manufacturers for example).

    But the article is about hard drives... still.. its hopeless and foolish.

    people who use their computers a lot will have data corruption earlier... all due to flash problems
  • by silverdirk (853406) on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:49AM (#16513083)
    I retract the statement just made. I tried "grep -R foo" in /etc, and after running it 5 times it ran diskless. The only argument to be made would be about who has the best cache replacement algorithm.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 20, 2006 @12:49AM (#16513095)
    It isn't about sequential transfer speed. It's about random access. Flash memory is way faster for random access since it doesn't have any moving parts. With flash, you cut out the seek time on the disk, so for large flat files that you access randomly (like the page file) it provides a significant benefit. Not to mention that having data transferred through two different interfaces is theoretically faster in many scenarios, since time spent seeking on the disk can be used to read from the USB key.

            -ShadowRanger
  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy&gmail,com> on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:13AM (#16513199)

    How is this an improvement?

    Because the _latency_ of flash is dramatically lower than mechanical hard disks.

    You are looking at throughput, not latency, which is _vastly_ more important when talking about average access patterns. This is why an older SCSI drive with markedly lower throughput, but significantly better latency, will often perform better (especially for things like swap).

    (Not to mention, your estimate of a 7200rpm drive is pretty generous to the tune of nearly 2x real-life performance).

    I understand that there are other factors in play when accessing the hard disk, but.. I digress. Is this supposed to be a cheap way for Joe Schmoe to upgrade performance?

    Yes. More accurately, cheap *and easy*.

    "Don't buy 1GB of RAM for $100, but a 1GB flash drive for $30 and get 1/109th of the performance upgrade!!"

    Firstly, it's going to deliver a significantly better benefit than than.

    Secondly, upgrading RAM requires opening the case and putting it in. Most people are not comfortable with opening the case in the first place, let alone mucking around inside the thing possibly breaking stuff.

  • by Hadlock (143607) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:23AM (#16513257) Homepage Journal
    Modern flash is in the 10s of millions now; the flash in your $20 thumb drive is just old trickle down tech in the 100k write range. 30 million write cycles should last about the expected lifespan of the computer - 3 to 4 years.
  • Re:Apple? (Score:4, Informative)

    by znu (31198) <znu.public@gmail.com> on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:25AM (#16513269)
    See rumor here [appleinsider.com].

    In short: Intel apparently has a similar technology (presumably with the flash memory being on the motherboard, rather than in the hard drive, which seems like a better idea), and it's rumored Apple is working with them to get it implemented for next year's Mac laptops.
  • by ichigo 2.0 (900288) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:57AM (#16513419)
    Preloading applications into memory is called caching. And suggesting that these preloaded applications would be swapped into the page file when they could simply be discarded and reloaded from the HDD when more RAM becomes available is silly. The act of swapping running programs and their data into the page file is a different thing altogether, and has nothing to do with SuperFetch. SuperFetch won't prestart the applications, only copy their data into RAM, and then if you happen to start the application in question the cached copy will be loaded instead of the HDD copy.
  • Re:Ship time (Score:4, Informative)

    by Phroggy (441) * <slashdot3@nospaM.phroggy.com> on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:20AM (#16513513) Homepage
    Out of curiosity, how similar is Vista's ReadyBoost feature to just mounting a USB drive as swap in Linux?

    Not really similar at all.

    Can you hot-unplug the drive in Linux if it's being used for swap?

    Nope, your system will crash unless you swapoff first (and of course that will fail if you're using more memory than you have physical RAM).

    According to a FAQ on ReadyBoost I found, Vista will back up the pagefile to disk so it's not a catastrophe if you yank out the USB stick.

    Correct. The data on the USB stick is used as a cache, not swap.

    And is there any setting in Linux to tweak to let the system know you've got a fast swap partition, other than simply monkeying with /proc/sys/vm/swappiness ?

    If there were, how would you want this information to affect Linux's behavior?
  • by pe1chl (90186) on Friday October 20, 2006 @04:31AM (#16514053)
    The access time is also VERY low compared to a HDD

    It depends. I have one of those "IDE Flash disk" modules in a system I want to keep as silent and lowpower as possible.
    It looks like a normal IDE connector (a bit larger) and plugs directly in the motherboard, looking just like a normal IDE disk to the BIOS, the OS, etc.
    (so you can just install your system on it and boot, read/write, etc. no special drivers or trouble with booting from USB)

    However, this device is easily outperformed by any modern harddisk. It is fine for the application I use it for, but certainly not something I would want to have in my main system.
  • by LizardKing (5245) on Friday October 20, 2006 @04:39AM (#16514079)

    You're not running a shitload of security updates if you haven't rebooted in 55 days.

  • by ppw21 (1015065) on Friday October 20, 2006 @05:00AM (#16514177)
    The access time is also VERY low compared to a HDD...

    While flash has no seek time to worry about, TFA clearly says that flash is slower than rotating disks for large sequential reads & writes. While these hybrid disks don't have that problem, because large writes can go straight to the magnetic disk and bypass the flash, a solid state drive is really going to suffer in that aspect. So, that movie you wanted to archive? Have fun...
  • by Anonymous Cowled (917825) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:20PM (#16519163)
    How would plugging in a firewire / usb flash drive and swapping on that increase the speed of your system? It doesn't matter how fast the medium you connect - it would bottleneck at the usb / firewire interface. USB 2.0 (the marginally faster of the two) runs at a maximum of 480 Mb/s or 60 MB/s, however, in practice you will NEVER attain this speed outside of a lab - average speed for usb 2.0 in real life is ~10MB/s. Firewire is similar, but has a slightly lower throughput. Now assuming that you have pc3200 memory (not factoring in latency, chipset, brand etc involved in measuring this sort of thing), the average throughput is around 1.5 - 2 GB/s. Slight difference?

    By far the easiest ways to increase the speed of your system is throw in a pile of RAM (so that swapping is not needed) or a nice, fast HDD.

Is your job running? You'd better go catch it!

Working...