back to article Captain Marvell flops out mighty flash/disk hybrid controller

Hoping to help bring affordable flash acceleration to hard disk drives, Marvell has crafted a hybrid controller that makes an SSD and hard drive duo look like a single storage pool to host systems. Solid state drives (SSD) are very expensive compared to hard disk drives (HDD) and, so far, only Seagate has tried building an …


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Probably not

Having just invested in a momentus XT hybrid drive such as the ones that this marvell controller may "stop dead in their tracks" according to the author, I think I can say that it probably will not. I put the seagate drive in my 2 year old Core 2 Duo laptop and the difference in performance is considerable.

As a result the Momentus Hybrid drive has the laptop market all on its own which is something that the Marvell controller cannot serve because most notebooks have a single slot for a drive and even if they had two, their connectors are in such a way that adding the Marvell controller will not be possible.

On the desktop space things are a bit different but again the simplicity of having a single drive rather than a controller, an SSD and an HDD will probably appeal to most users.

The last reason is probably cost. A 500Gb Momentus XT hybrid drive retails for around 120 to 150 dollars. To get the Marvell working you are looking at around 60 to 70 dollars for the drive, 20 to 30 dollars for an equivalent SSD plus the cost of the Marvell controller itself so it looks like they will cost more or less the same and have the same performance.

Judging by the all the above and the head start that the Seagate drive has, I think the Momentus is probably going to be the more prevalent of the two.


Hmmm - what about RAID?

OK this sounds all very nice in theory, but I'm now used to having nice on-board hardware RAID, so I wouldn't be enthusiastic about going back to (effectively) a single disk. How would these controllers work in even RAID 1 configurations (never mind the higher ones)? At least with the Momentus XT, that's all handled at the disk level, so it should be fairly easy to mirror them.


You can still have RAID if you go back in time

Older RAID1 implementations would have no problem whatsoever. They did not have read load balancing and read only from one drive while writing to two for redundancy. An example is the BSD RAID driver prior to 5.0. AFAIK most other implementations started from similar humble beginnings. There, you could read from the hybrid drive while writing to both. So no loss of speed on read, and reasonable write.

However the current versions all do balanced read and it cannot be turned off easily without source diving. It may be worth adding it to the driver and should not be that difficult.

In any case - I do not see the Marvel chip stopping Seagate in its tracks. There is an immense population of PCs that will be upgraded with a XT instead of being replaced. Seagate got that population entirely to itself now.



What a shame you had to illustrate this feature with the imposter.

Check out the real Captain Marvel in Fawcett's Whiz or Shazam.

Mine's the one with the yellowing British '50s reprint in the pocket.


Hiss Man

Anonymous Coward


I think Pantelis has it a bit wrong?

You won't have laptops with this hybrid controller on board, and two SATA connections, requiring two drives....

You'll have the hybrid controller, with embedded SSD, and a single SATA connector, for the HDD of your (or the OEM's) choosing.

Would be the sensible way to do it anyway


not so Momentus XT..

I cloned from a 72,000 rpm Toshiba HDD to a Momentus XT, and haven't noticed /any/ difference. And neither has Passmark's Performance Test (including in its disk access tests..)

Seriously disappointing!


72,000 rpm ?!?

My friend, if you really DID have a 72000rpm hard disk drive, i'm not surprised that you didn't see any change in performance when you moved to the Momentus XT haha


RAM drive please?

If I read this correctly, the content of the SSD is also kept on the HDD. Can we then consider the possibility of a setup with the controller, a RAM drive and a HDD?

Fast and no problem with ultimate failure of the SSD with maximum write/read cycles!?

Please tell me it is possible!!!

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