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back to article Flashy mutant Ultrabooks to shove pure SSD chaps off cliff

Storage industry research firm TrendFocus says Ultrabooks will increasingly use hybrid disk drives for their near-SSD speed, HDD capacity and ability to undercut pure SSD Ultrabook prices. Seagate thinks hybrid drives will eventually enter every part of its product portfolio. According to Stifel Nicolaus analyst Aaron Rakers, …

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Hmm...

Hybrid drives overall seem to cost more than pure SSDs at the moment?

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Re: Hybrid drives overall seem to cost more than pure SSDs at the moment?

Seagate Seagate 500GB Momentus XT 2.5" Hybrid SSD/HDD - costs £95, OCZ 120GB Agility 3 SSD - AGT3-25SAT3-120G £72 on ebuyer at the moment - to me that looks like Seagate is 1/4 price per gigabyte

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Anonymous Coward

So...

It's like an SSD, only without the benefits of speed and low energy use?

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Re: So...

Well, they should have 'some' of the speed benefits, because they include a small flash cache which is effectively an internal mini SSD. So frequently used data should be retrieved at near-SSD speeds assuming the drive's firmware correctly anticipates usage.

That being said, I would still go for the real SSD every day of the week.

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Bronze badge
Boffin

Re: So...

Very rough numbers, based on my testing here in a 3 year old Dell laptop:

Original HDD, 160Gb, boot to windows login ~45s

Hybrid HDD 500Gb, boot to login ~ 30-35s

SSD, 120Gb boot to login ~20-25s

On purchase price the hybrid HDD and SDD were roughly similar, so the hybrid drive is much cheaper per Gb and sits somewhere between the SSD and the original HDD in terms of speed.

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Silver badge
FAIL

"The researchers have predicted that users will prefer Ultrabooks to tablets because they are near equivalent in price and support content creation as well as consumption."

Sorry but just how many tablets cost over $1000, for that much you could buy a decent laptop and a top end tablet with cash to spare.

OK I see a good case for ultrabook type devices but if I was going to spend over $1000 for a portable windows system I would prefer something like a transformer prime with Windows 8 on it (not that I want windows 8) at least you would have both a tablet and a laptop to do your "content creation"......

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Unhappy

I see lots of talk about Hybrid disks but little actual activity in the market. Seagate has the XT which hasn't been without its own trouble but little movement elsewhere. Perhaps Intel's new approach to Turbo boost will change things but as that is Windows only it is a little disappointing.

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FAIL

Hmmm

So spinning disc is cheap, and high capacity but slow, noisy and all those moving parts take lots of electrickery

Solid state are lightning quick, efficient and quiet but expensive and not too roomy... but they are decreasing in price and increasing in capacity.

Hybrids mean you can start up faster than spinning disc, and that's about it. I reckon they might be able to fool some of the people for about a year

Also, the graphic shows that the cost of the "atennae" also decreases as part of the overal cost, whilst as a percentage everything else increases and hybrid drives lessen their cut. Ignoring the spelling and the fact that insects have antennae, and comms stuff has antennas, that pricing change makes as much sense to me as hybrid drives

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Silver badge

Re: Hmmm

The thing is they the price per GB of Flash is still far from competitive with hard drives. There is an order of magnitude problem with the costs of producing flash chips vs. manufacturing magnetic platters, and because the problems are mostly physical in nature, they'll be difficult to overcome (IOW, it would take a novel method of producing flash chips for them to catch up--Flash may be getting cheaper, but so are hard drives, the only reason they're not at the moment is because of temporary supply-side hiccups).

So the best approach may well be to have a foot in both worlds. Flash doesn't need to spin up, so it can be geared to be the first responder, holding the first-line boot system and the pieces of data mostly likely to be called first. While the Flash is handling that end, you can have the hard drive spin up in the background so that by the time Flash is out of stuff, the hard drive's ready to pick up the handoff. It sounds like a reasonable compromise between speed and capacity and it may be the best thing going forward until some other innovation is able to find a better spot on the price/performance/capacity surface.

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Bronze badge

Re: Hmmm

You might be surprised how much software can be run from 32GB. Maybe the Hybrid tech will get naround the problem of software which does a lot of small data writes, not always to a distinct location, but I can't avoid the feeling that the drive capacity is a bit huge. Maybe back-up hardware is a better investment.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmmm

I agree. It's too late for hybrids.

Pure prices SSDs are falling through the floor, and that was before China's Fabs took off. SSD is only ever going to get cheaper.

It's too late. SSDs have won. I put a Crucial 256Gig M4 in a friend's son's box this week. (I got his dad to get him an Acer with 8GigRam, and core i3.) By the time I got to the house, the lad had filled it with 3D design packages, spotify, etc.. Native disk usage 104GB. We did a test. A restart, followed by login, start everything, wait until they were all ready and shutdown. The CPU never breached 38%. And seven minutes later we were still waiting.

After the conversion, 1 minute 20 seconds. SSDs have won. The competition is pointless. The lad was surprised, the dad was in shock.

IMHO. The next big thing for performance is large RAM, so Core i7, laptops can be used as servers. I bet we see 64GByte RAM laptops within two years. My work boxes, dual SSD, i7laptops (16GB Ram,) with loads that would, just two years ago, be considered in the realm of datacentres, are now sitting waiting on the SSDS. Still I can't get over 50%. Ram is the next explosion. Hybrid drives may allow for fast work inside the cache, but the cache isn't big enough

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CPU share?

Is it just me, or are other surprised that the CPU is costing almost half of the machine?

Seems that is the reason Intel wants to push the 'Ultrabook', though as Big_Ted said, you could get a decent and flexible combination of machines for this sort of price if not wanting to ape Mac Air looks.

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Re: CPU share?

Not surprised long has it been so. Figures also highlight the small percentage of the BOM saved by fitting a low resolution display and skimping on other features.

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If the BOM difference is only 6%, I'll have SSD please.

If you have a older laptop, consider shunting the existing HDD into a ODD drive bay HDD adapter and installing an SSD in it's place.

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BOM?

So the total £BOM decreases with hybrid, so the percentage of the overall cost of each other component increases as expected ... except atennae which decreases from 2% to 1% when using hybrid.

Why?

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Anonymous Coward

Suddenly it makes sense...

Ah, so that's the reason for the proliferation of shit 1366x768 screens... the tight bastards are only spending $50 on them. Might get a few more sales if they tried spending an extra $100 on the screen, and $100 less on the CPU? Oh, but wait... that would upset Intel (the guys behind this Ultrabook drive)... things suddenly make sense.

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WTF?

"....Ultrabooks – MacBook Air-like notebook computers"

They are nothing like MacBook Air.

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Bronze badge
WTF?

How much storage does a small laptop need ?

Something which can easily get nicked isn't the best place to keep you media collection or most important documents without a regularly synchronised backup. What you will need is programs run locally and local copies of data needed in the short term stored longer term on a server somewhere else.

This tends to give a premium to storage advantages of SSD - high speed, low battery use.

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Re: How much storage does a small laptop need ?

But what if it's a COPY of the media collection or something else big, bulky, and perhaps required to be local because you may be going somewhere where network access isn't guaranteed, so it's either go big or go home.

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Anonymous Coward

This is a generic BOM

It would be interesting to see Apple's BOM. Due to volume and some very aggressive supply chain lock-in, reports indicate they are paying a lot less for SSD's than any of their competitors. That's one of the reasons Android tablet manufacturers have struggled to beat Apple's pricing. For a while it could only be matched and then by selling with almost no margin. Now they are beginning to get lower, but still don't have anything like the margin and Apple have kept a lower cost iPad 2 option hanging around.

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Re: This is a generic BOM

Apple bought their own SSD operation a few months ago. (Anobit)

I was in the middle of an SSD evaluation when Apple pulled the rug. Anobit made a very nice SSD (especially the SAS unit).

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Pint

Dumb

Marketing platform aside there comes a point when it is less costly to market a new technology rather then continue to market an old one. Hybrids would have to get very cheap, very quickly to have some sort of market before SSD caught up.

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Skewiffy calculaions

Tom Coughlan sent this in:

it appears that either the article or TrendFocus are confusing hybrid HDDs which have flash cache built into the HDD with dual storage configurations which have a HDD and a separate SSD (like the mSATA SSD in the chart). These both use flash and HDD together but in different ways and calling them both hybrid drives is rather confusing I think.

By the way in early 2011 Jim Handy of Objective Analysis and I (Coughlin Associates) put out a report on the growth of hybrid HDDs and dual storage computers, in particular for ultrabooks.

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