Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Truth Behind Hybrid Disk Drives

What is a hybrid drive? That’s the question we hear quite frequently at present. Though has already provided an exhaustive answer to this question, we suggest that you familiarize yourself with our brief review.

In a Nutshell

 SSHD is a relatively new marketing term coined by Seagate Technology, the American data storage company, to designate a category of storage devices known as hybrid hard drives, which are a combination of a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) and new solid-state drive technology (SSD).

In this article, we’re going to discuss the pros and cons of this type of drives and try to figure out whether they are worth your attention and money, of course.

Advantages of SSHDs

Seagate’s advertising headlines read as follows: “SSD Performance. HDD capacity. Affordable price.” What they’re trying to say is that that SSHD combines the advantages of the two technologies without significant costs. Still, if that’s the case, why hasn’t the hybrid hard drive technology superseded the traditional hard drive technology in the market of data storage devices market? We’ll try to answer this question, but in the meantime, let’s look at hybrids more closely.

In fact, SSHDs are the same HDDs featuring a compact, small capacity solid-state drive adjusted to disk controllers and acting as a cache for most frequently requested data. It comes as no surprise that SSHD memory capacities are not inferior to those of classic hard drives.

As for the price, the hybrid hard drives are about 10-20% more expensive than traditional HDDs, which is due to additional cache memory and firmware to manage that cache. On the other hand, they are much cheaper than their solid-state counterparts. Sounds optimistic. Still…

Is a SSHD’s Performance Really as Good as that of SSD?

The truth is that hybrid hard drives’ performance depends on the way the system is used by a user, and the limiting factor of that very performance is a small amount of cache memory (about 8 GB, at this point), which is simply not enough to perform demanding tasks.

If you major activities involve surfing the Internet, frequenting social networks, checking emails, playing solitaire games or chess, you’ll surely benefit from using hybrid hard drives, since, in such a case, a cache memory will be quite enough to fully process all data at a speed corresponding to that of SSDs.

Still, let’s consider an opposite scenario. If you’re a fan of demanding computer games, then we can safely say that you’re unlikely to notice any difference in performance if you replace your HDD with a SSHD. Why? Because the volume of the cache is rather small and the files of your favorite computer game will be constantly updated and cannot be reused (from the cache). Since there is no chance to reuse the files, there will be no tangible benefit from an SSD cache.

 The same goes for copying data. If you copy, suppose, a folder of files occupying more than 8 GB and want to transfer it from one place to another, there is no chance for your SSHD’s cache to assist you in this undertaking. Instead, its HDD will be used, and the copy speed will be the same as on a classic HDD.

Still, it is worth noting that your system boot time will substantially increase and will be less tha 10 seconds.

Who Needs SSHDs?

The primary target market for solid-state hybrid drives are people using laptops. The limited physical space is not conducive to adding more than one disk in laptops to expand storage capacity. While an SSD provides greater performance, it limits the amount of data that can be stored on it. On the other hand, adding an HDD will provide a lot of space, but the hard disk alone won’t work as productively as its solid-state drive counterpart.

SSHD, in turn, can offer a simple and affordable way to provide better performance with the same amount of internal memory. Since most laptops are used for work and not for games, the advantages of hybrids become even more obvious.

We do not recommend using hybrid hard drives is desktop systems, since a PC chassis allows you to easily install multiple drives, namely SSD (for system operation) and HDD (for data storage), which will ensure excellent performance of your machine.

An exception may be mini-desktop systems offering OneDrive storage space.

Hope we’ve managed to answer all of your questions about hybrid disk drives.


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BALAJI is an Ex-Security Researcher (Threat Research Labs) at Comodo Cybersecurity. Editor-in-Chief & Co-Founder - Cyber Security News & GBHackers On Security.

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