I just purchased a new hard disk drive from Seagate. The Momentus XT 750GB is a new breed of hybrid drives, combining the speed of solid-state drives with the high storage capacity of traditional spinning drives. The drive caches frequently open applications and OS programs in 32 MB of cache and 4 GB of flash memory, giving a claimed performance boost of up to 100% over traditional hard disk drives.
It sounded wonderful on paper so I purchased the 750 GB version from Amazon, and had it shipped over on expedited delivery. Using the free cloning software from Ease US, I easily duplicated my existing hard disk onto the new hybrid drive.
The first thing I did was to run the Windows experience index score again. The result remains at 5.9 for the hard disk performance. OK, this benchmark is probably not sensitive enough to capture any performance improvements.
The computer bootup time didn’t see much different either, taking about 2 min to complete the start-up sequence (I do have a fair number of programs running in the background).
What I did notice so far was that frequently used applications, such as the chrome browser, open almost instantly. I believe that as time passes, the hard disk will learn intelligently which data to store in the cache and the speeds will become noticeably faster. I will do an update on the performance in the near future.
Solid-state drives are still the best performing hard disk drives. Unfortunately even though the capacity to price ratio has been improving, they are still too expensive. For example, the Crucial m4 SSD drive costs US$406 for 512GB (US$0.79/GB) vs US$140 for the 750GB Momentus XT (US$0.18/GB), which is more than four times the unit cost.
For now, this makes hybrid disk drives a very palatable alternative indeed.