When they were introduced a couple of years ago, hybrid hard drives seemed enticing. Pairing a standard hard drive with a flash component sounded like a good way to deliver on the theoretical performance boosts that flash can offer while still providing the long-standing price, capacity, and performance benefits of hard disks. We've now tested the first two hybrid hard drives to reach market, and we've discovered some clear benefits--but other results were inconclusive.
We looked at Seagate's Momentus 5400 PSD drive, announced today, and Samsung's SpinPoint MH80 drive, released this summer. Both models are 2.5-inch, 160GB notebook drives with 256MB of nonvolatile flash memory cache on board. The hard-drive industry concentrated on introducing the new technology in laptop drives because notebooks would be more likely to reap the benefits that hybrid tech promises, including faster boot time and power savings.