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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:25 PM   #1
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Apple's New 'Fusion Drive' Not a Typical Hybrid Drive




Amongst the many new products Apple introduced today, they also announced a new storage option called Fusion Drive. Apple's website describes how the drive works:
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With Fusion Drive in your iMac, disk-intensive tasks -- from booting up to launching apps to importing photos -- are faster and more efficient. That's because frequently used items are kept at the ready on speedy flash storage, while infrequently accessed items go to the hard drive. The file transfers take place in the background, so you won't even notice.
Some thought the drive might be Apple's implementation of a Hybrid drive which uses SSD as a caching system, but it appears that Apple's system is distinct. The MacObserver digs into some details and clarifies:
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To be clear, this is not a caching concept, at least not in the current use of the word. Cache would imply that the data on the SSD is duplicated, and it's not. If you have a 1TB mechanical drive paired with the 128GB SSD, you have a 1.12 TB storage platform. This truly is the fusion of all the space on two separate disks.
Ars Technica compares it to an enterprise feature called Automated Tiered Storage.
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In a caching solution, like Intel's, files live on the hard disk drive and are temporarily mirrored to the SSD cache as needed. In an enterprise auto-tiering situation, and with Fusion Drive, the data is actually moved from one tier to another, rather than only being temporarily cached there.
The Mac Observer reports that there are two separate drives that appear as one logical partition. As a result, if your Hard Drive fails, it could be replaced with a 3rd party drive and reconfigured as a Fusion Drive.

Meanwhile, they note that all writes take place on the SSD drive, and are later moved to the mechanical drive if needed, resulting in faster initial writes. The Fusion will be available for the new iMac and new Mac mini models announced today.

Article Link: Apple's New 'Fusion Drive' Not a Typical Hybrid Drive

Last edited by arn; Oct 23, 2012 at 10:34 PM.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:27 PM   #2
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This feature is perfect during this HD to SDD transitional period. It'll keep things affordable while still supplying great performance.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:29 PM   #3
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Personally, an SSD boot drive and separate large HD seems more practical. No need to "fuse" them into one volume. Just seems like asking for trouble.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:29 PM   #4
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Love the technology, hate the "Fusion" logo.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:29 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by MacRumors View Post
The Fusion will be available for the 27-inch iMac and new Mac mini models announced today.
According to Apple's specs page, it's also configurable on the high end 21.5" iMac as well.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:29 PM   #6
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The way I see it, this is a variation of what OS X has been using for a long time: moving frequently used files to the faster "hot zone" on the outside of the drive (faster rotational speed). But here, the "hot zone" is a separate flash storage drive instead of being on the same hard disk. But sounds like cool technology. Is it all contained in a single unit? Can it be replaced easily, or as a single unit?

Unfortunately, where I need speed is for my ~150 GB of RAW photos, and it looks like the flash storage component is too small to fully benefit me there. The hard drive on my 2011 iMac is deathly slow, my MacBook Air is WAY faster, despite technically being much lower-specced. That SSD makes all the difference in the world.
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Last edited by HiRez; Oct 23, 2012 at 10:35 PM.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:30 PM   #7
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Very interesting, though I'm wondering what if one of those drives fail. Is your data retrievable from the other one?
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:30 PM   #8
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The higher end 21.5 iMac can be configured with a 1 TB fusion drive as well.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:31 PM   #9
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I really hope this feature becomes available to other macs that have an SSD and HDD already installed. Even the previous generation iMacs you could have an SSD and HDD installed by Apple. If they open it up to other computers, I'll look forward to installing it on my Macbook Pro with the dual drives instead of the optical drive.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:31 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by MacRumors View Post
The Mac Observer reports that there are two separate drives that appear as one logical partition. As a result, if your Hard Drive fails, it could be replaced with a 3rd party drive and reconfigured as a Fusion Drive.
Don't mistake it though. You'll still lose all your data.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:31 PM   #11
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prices of SSDs went down heavily

This is actually not needed if apple went with 256GB as standard
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:32 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JesterJJZ View Post
Personally, an SSD boot drive and separate large HD seems more practical. No need to "fuse" them into one volume. Just seems like asking for trouble.
The fusion drive is just software to automatically handle that. Most consumers probably don't want to have to deal with having a boot drive and a data drive. Some things can be tricky to get onto an external drive, like iTunes and iPhoto libraries.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregwyattjr View Post
This feature is perfect during this HD to SDD transitional period. It'll keep things affordable while still supplying great performance.
Exactly my thoughts... good temp solution.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:32 PM   #14
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Way cool technology aside, is anyone else curious how VMWare feels about the name?
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:32 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiRez View Post
The way I see it, this is a variation of what OS X has been using for a long time: moving frequently used files to the faster "hot zone" on the inside of the drive (faster rotational speed). But here, the "hot zone" is a separate flash storage drive instead of being on the same hard disk. But sounds like cool technology. Is it all contained in a single unit? Can it be replaced easily, or as a single unit?

Unfortunately, where I need speed is for my ~150 GB of RAW photos, and it looks like the flash storage component is too small to fully benefit me there. The hard drive on my 2011 iMac is deathly slow.
Outside of the drive spins faster, but I know what you mean.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:32 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by shanmugam View Post
This is actually not needed if apple went with 256GB as standard
How would having a 256GB SSD replacing having a 1TB or 3TB hard drive?
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:32 PM   #17
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Wonder why no larger SSD option, especially since you can get a much bigger SSD alone. There must be some sort of balance between the SSD and HDD components in the Fusion configuration.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:32 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregwyattjr View Post
This feature is perfect during this HD to SDD transitional period. It'll keep things affordable while still supplying great performance.
I agree. Perfect for now until SSDs drop in price.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:33 PM   #19
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How would having a 256GB SSD replacing having a 1TB or 3TB hard drive?
most of us do not need that bigger size as main drive, you always need to backup the data into some external drive.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:34 PM   #20
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I hope they make this available for existing products. I'd love to replace the drive in my 2012 mac mini. It sounded like it was mountain lion doing all the work and not new hardware, other than the drive. Does anybody know if this is the case.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:35 PM   #21
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I'm not too happy with the current price for the fusion upgrade ($250 for the mac mini). I hope it will be less for the 27" iMac...but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Will I get the upgrade? Yes... Getting the stand alone SSD is not enough space for what I need and this seems like a good solution for the time being.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:35 PM   #22
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Excited to see some benchmarks about this! I currently use a drive like this and wonder if this one is any better!
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:37 PM   #23
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It looks like Intel's Smart Response Technology (SRT)

and most likely that's exactly what it is. It has been available on PCs for a while.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:37 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gaximus View Post
Outside of the drive spins faster, but I know what you mean.
Yeah, sorry about that, I realized my mistake and already fixed it.
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Old Oct 23, 2012, 10:37 PM   #25
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It does seem to be more of a software solution then. Wonder if it will be something that is added to Disk Utility to be able to do on other systems with dual drives. Nah... This is Apple so probably not
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