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back to article WD to parade flash-disk mutant for Wall St moneybags this week

Western Digital will face investors on Thursday and tell them what the world's new number-one disk drive supplier is going to do to stay at the top. That means products, products and more products. Having acquired Hitachi GST and its enterprise drives, WD can't wait to put competitive pressure on Seagate and dive deeper into the …

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"Personal cloud storage hardware (aka external hard drives)"

Laughing, crying, spluttering and shaking my head at the same time. (Do not try this at home).

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Hybrid drive query

Something I've been wondering about hybrid drives: do they remain readable if/when the flash cache fails?

In my experience, most (not all) conventional disk drives fail gradually and the SMART statistics (especially reallocations) give you advance warning. In contrast flash devices go from working storage to utterly bricked "just like that". It would be nice to be told that if the flash part of a hybrid drive does turn into a brick, what's on the magnetic disk can still be retrieved.

Failing which it will be smarter for one's operating system to control a flash cache and a magnetic disk drive as separate devices. In fact maybe the drive manufacturers could package this option as one SATA device with two LUNs, or even make it a jumper-configurable mode?

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Bronze badge

Re: Hybrid drive query

yes they should. I had something of the opposite occur on my first hybrid drive, I was driving a ton of I/O to it (in Linux) (restoring my applications and stuff from my backups), and I caused the disk portion of the drive to "crash" somehow, though I could still run some basic read operations, all writes would just stall out. Not enough of the OS was restored at that point so I lacked the diagnostic tools to investigate further.

A swift kick in the pants got the system going again, and I haven't seen the issue since (in about a year).

I prefer the fully integrated approach myself, then I don't have to worry about drivers, and whether or not the OS is supported. I'd like it more if the flash could be used as a write back cache as well, but I guess they don't trust it enough to handle that yet.

Nice to see more hybrid drives coming out.

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Coat

Re: Hybrid drive query

Flash drives use a small simple CPU to manage the wear leveling. If the flash cells it stores its meta data in stop working and it can't use its backups, then the flash array is dead. Now if there was just some way to use a much more sophisticated CPU with access to far more memory and the ability to long term trend analysis maybe these problems would go away but every flash vendor wants to do their own thing at the interface level and not just provide a bunch of blocks and let a more advanced file system deal with the real world issues.

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