Seagate Intros Momentus XT With Spinning Disk, Flash SSD

Seagate on Tuesday unveiled a new version of its Momentus XT hybrid drives, which combine spinning disk with Flash memory, and feature big bumps in capacity, Flash memory, and speed.

Seagate's new Momentus XT drives target high-performance client PCs, particularly mobile PCs which can take advantage of new technologies to significantly boost boot speeds, said Joni Clark, senior vice president and marketing manager for Seagate.

The Momentus XT drives feature Seagate's FAST (Flash-Assisted Storage Technology) Factor, a technology which takes advantage of the built-in NAND-based Flash memory to give the drives the performance of an SSD, Clark said.

Frequently accessed data is kept in both the spinning disk and in the Flash memory to both increase performance and make sure it is safe in the event of a problem with the Flash, she said.

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New to FAST Factor with the introduction of the Momentus XT drives is FAST Boot, which keeps the boot data in the Flash memory as a way to boot a PC in only one-third the time compared to standard hard drives, Clark said.

For users who boot infrequently, the boot data will gradually be replaced by other more frequently accessed data. "But if you are a frequent booter, your boots will be much faster than if you boot once a month," she said.

In one OEM notebook PC, the identity of which Clark declined to state, the new Momentus XT performed a cold boot in about 22 seconds, compared to 20 seconds for a typical SSD drive such as Intel's X-25 model.

However, because of its spinning drive, the Momentus XT costs about 33 cents per GB, compared to about $1.50 per GB for the X-25, Clark said.

FAST Factor also uses an algorithm that ensures that data in the Flash memory is more often read than written. "Users should be able to do little writing, and mainly reading, of data," she said. "Writing data to NAND wears it out eventually."

The second generation Momentus XT features a 750-GB capacity spinning hard disk, which is 50 percent greater than the 500 GBs of capacity in Seagate's original Momentus XT drives, which it introduced in May of 2010.

The new Momentus XT also features 8 GBs of SLC NAND-based memory, which is double the original Flash memory, and comes with a 6-Gbps SATA interface compared to the original 3-Gbps SATA, Clark said.

As a result of the increase Flash memory and new interface, the new Momentus XT's performance is about 1.5 times faster than that of the older version, she said.

The Momentus XT is currently shipping with a suggested retail price of $245.

Clark said production of the Momentus XT drives has not been impacted by Thailand floods which have eliminated nearly one-third of the world's hard drive manufacturing capacity.