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Seagate Releases Hybrid SSD Hard Disk Drive

The Momentus XT 2.5-inch laptop drive combines a 4 GB SSD with a traditional HDD in capacities from 250 GB to 500 GB.

Seagate Technology has introduced a hybrid laptop drive that offers higher performance than a traditional hard disk drive at a price significantly lower than a solid-state drive.

The Momentus XT, released Monday, is a 2.5-inch drive that combines a 4 GB SSD with a HDD and is available in capacities of 250 GB, 320 GB and 500 GB. The largest model has a manufacturer suggested retail price of $156, which is less than most 60 GB SSDs.

The Momentus XT has a spindle speed of 7,200 rpm, a serial ATA (SATA) interface and 32 MB of cache. The drive is designed for any standard laptop, but not for high-performance servers found in data centers. Seagate offers the Savvio HDD and Pulsar SSD for those environments.

Seagate claims the new product is 80% faster than traditional 7,200 rpm HDDs and 20% faster than a 10,000-rpm drive. In addition, the hybrid boots up a system up to 100% faster than typical 5,400 rpm HDDs.

Key to the higher performance is a Seagate-developed, self-learning algorithm called Adaptive Memory Technology. AMT memorizes user behavior and places the most used filed in the SSD. As a result, systems boot up faster and load frequently accessed applications and games faster. The technology also adapts to changes in user behavior.

Seagate is not new to hybrid drives. The company launched its first combination disk storage and flash memory hard drive in October 2007. The Momentus 5400 PSD offered 160 GB of storage and 256 MB of flash. At the time, the drive sold for $190, which was a 30% premium over traditional HDDs.

Competitor Samsung Electronics shipped its first hybrid flash/hard drive in March of the same year. The MH80 Series was available in 80, 120- and 160-GB capacities and 128 MB or 256 MB of flash.

Seagate has said it would eventually offer hybrid drives as an option across its entire line of disk drives for notebooks, desktops and thin-and-light laptops. Makers of hard disk drives have banded together to promote hybrid drives for notebooks and to work with PC makers in helping them adopt the technology. Founding members of the Hybrid Storage Alliance include Fujitsu, Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate, and Toshiba.

While solid-state drives were expected to one day replace hard drives, SSD prices have remained too high for use other than in applications where the need for speed and performance justify the cost. Hybrids on the other hand are seen as an affordable alternative for gamers and workstations used by professionals. \

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