More on Hybrid Hard Drives

In our quest to find the fabled prototype hybrid hard drive, we have discovered that there are currently no physical, working, hybrid hard drives being publicly shown by either Microsoft or Samsung. Pry as we might, we couldn't get anyone to reveal anything concrete about the progress of a real drive.

For now, we have to be satisfied with the demonstration we mentioned yesterday. To go into a little more detail on the test platform, Samsung has built a PC to emulate a hybrid hard drive. The demo had a laptop setup with an IDE cable running out of the chassis to the emulation PC. This PC had a PCI card with the IDE interface for the laptop and another PCI card with 128MB of nand flash onboard. Basically, the PC was able to manage sending/receiving information to/from the laptop via either the NVRAM or the "disk" itself. A light would come on when the system needed to move off of the NVRAM.

With the demo being run, a constant stream of data was being generated and sent to the disk. This resulted in 18 seconds worth of hard drive activity every 15 minutes or so. Of course, if anything needs to be read that's not already cached in main memory by Longhorn, the system will then immediately spin up the drive and flush the NVRAM to disk.

We are still very interested in collecting the opinions of various hard drive makers on this technology. We do expect plenty of interest the hybrid hard drive, but we would like to find out if any of the manufacturers see this technology not only as a mobile solution (where the power saving features are of most interest) but also in desktop drives where the major benefit would be in accelerating boot times.

Our thoughts are that this could be a good universal solution as long as non-volatile solid state storage transfer speeds exceed that of average magnetic media. We are also still a little wary of the MTBF figures Microsoft is proposing. It is our hope that spinning up and down the platters more frequently, while saving wear on the heads, won't lower the reliability of the spindle.

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  • JarredWalton - Saturday, April 30, 2005 - link

    I don't know what people do that causes these supposed crashes all the time. It's not that XP *never* crashes, but it's so rare that I almost always look for hardware problems if it begins to occur frequently. (Well, that and checking drivers, spyware, etc.) I have applications crash as well, but you can't really blame MS for an application bug (unless they wrote the application, of course).
  • NightCrawler - Friday, April 29, 2005 - link

    Damn my TV crashed, maybe the blue screen could include a picture of Bill Gates.

    Anyways here are the steps to enjoying Longhorn:

    1. Buy super fast hardware from newegg/zipzoomfly etc.

    2. Install Windows 2010 {Longhorn}.

    3. Install Crack provided by 12 year old chinese/russian super hacker.

    4. Enjoy :)
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 28, 2005 - link

    Bill Gates mentioned in the keynote that the cost for a tablet PC is now ~$100 more than that of a standard laptop, and they feel that was critical in getting increased adoption of tablet PCs. Certainly, MS gave no indication that they think tablets are going away, although they didn't say a whole lot about them becoming more popular.

    Windows CE is still a pretty major business for MS, but I think the focus at this WinHEC was on the launch of XP-64 and the work being done on Longhorn. CE 5.0 is used in many products, and I believe it is the renamed version of PocketPC, right? (I don't follow that market as much, so I may be way off.)
  • Cygni - Thursday, April 28, 2005 - link

    These arent the things that really get the most coverage or press, but i was wondering if there was much or anything on display from the Tablet and PocketPC worlds? I know all the market people seem to think that PocketPC's are on the way out, but i still see a gigantic amount of potential not being tapped. Tablets too... they seem to be dropping off the market instead of growing.

    Any new stuffs about MS's stance at WinHEC or anything would be enjoyed on this end. Thanks.
  • Son of a N00b - Thursday, April 28, 2005 - link

    i for one, while i can see the future do not like HTPC's, expecially when they are not the best quality (plz correct me if i am wrong, becuase i do not know much abot thme), but i like having a TV and a PC, having them run out of the same box at the same time though wouldnt be to bad, along with house controls, like air conditioning, lights, that would be cool, yet unpractical until twenty years from now....HTPC's INHO cannot really benefit yet...
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, April 28, 2005 - link

    Thanks Pete :-)
  • Pete - Thursday, April 28, 2005 - link

    I figure with this nitpick, both of you will be as *wary* of my posts as I'm *weary* of how weak Word's spellcheck is in this era of 2+GHz CPUs.

    Last paragraph, page two. ;)

    Good read, and good points WRT DRM.
  • sprockkets - Thursday, April 28, 2005 - link

    funny but using my new cheap $150 lite on dvd recorder I use the svideo in port and record 1080i shows and it looks good enought for me in 720x480. And using one with a built in hdd is much easier than using a computer to do the same thing, not to mention much smaller and cheaper. Yeah you can do more with a computer, but why have a 200w device doing what my lite on does with 36w?

    IP over TV? I can see it now. "Sorry, cannot connect to show LOST due to too many users."

    "My MCE got hacked, and all the friends I had over saw porn come on the screen during the movie."

    I think for these people it's a matter of not making money, it's just I want to release my show when I want where I want. On the consumer side, I want the right to have it now, as in I don't want to wait 8 months for you to release a movie onto personal formats.

  • oupei - Thursday, April 28, 2005 - link

    #13 just like you could use win98 right now? I don't think xp will be an alternative for very long. Linux, on the other hand, might be...

    man, why does it have to be "home theater IN A BOX"? do you have to make a point to exclude real home theater systems?
  • Brian23 - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Don't forget that we can still use XP or Linux if these newfangled operating systems take away our rights.

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