by Josh Shaman

Seagate Ships Third-Generation SSHDs

Seagate announced that its third-generation of solid state hybrid drives (SSHD), drives with technology designed to take advantage of the performance of SSDs without sacrificing the capacity users expect from HDDs, will begin shipping. Seagate is currently the only brand offering SSHDs, though it is worth noting that Toshiba and Western Digital have them in development. Seagate's new models include a third-generation line of their laptop SSHDs and Seagate's first desktop version as well. The SSHDs are an economical choice for gamers, media enthusiasts, and users looking to gain a performance edge while still having high-capacity drives.

The new laptop SSHDs boast a number of improvements over the second-generation Momentus XT models that we previously reviewed. For starters, the new laptop 500GB SSHD has 2mm shaved off to come in at a slim 7mm body, important for ultra-thin, ultra-light laptops. The third-generation also offers capacity up to 1TB, up from 750GB in the previous model (though the 1TB is only available in the 9.5mm form factor). Both models will utilize 8GB of NAND as in the previous generation Momentux XT. It is worth noting that the second-generation Momentus XT models were offered with 8GB of SLC NAND, while the new, third-generation models have 8GB of MLC NAND. Using MLC does allow for increased NAND capacity and also drives down the cost of the unit for users.

Third-generation Laptop SSHDs will spin at 5400RPM, down from 7200RPM in the second-generation as Seagate standardizes 2.5" notebook hard drives on a single 5,400 RPM platform. Still, they should provide performance up to 5 times faster than HDDs, storage performance up to 40% faster than previous generations, and up to 30% faster total system performance. Windows boot times also have improved with Windows 8 boot as fast as 10 seconds and Windows 7 at 12 seconds. 

Meanwhile, the Seagate Desktop SSHD will perform up to 4 times faster than HDDs and will be offered with 1TB and 2TB capacities and 8GB of NAND Flash. Oddly Seagate is not offering the desktop hybrid in a 3TB capacity, possibly due to the cache miss penalty (hitting the hard drive when a requested file is not in cache) being more likely if NAND capacity doesn't scale with drive capacity. 

Pricing and Availability

The new, third-generation SSHDs should be available very soon. Seagate will keep the price significantly lower than in previous generations (Momentus XT 500GB - $150 and 750GB - $245). Laptop SSHDs will be affordably priced at $79 for the 500GB and $99 for the 1TB, while the desktop models will run $99 for 1TB and $149 for 2TB.

UPDATE 3/8/13 - Seagate Laptop Thin SSHD 500GB Review Posted

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