An interesting SSD Alternative.

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Winter Charm, May 25, 2010.

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What do you think about this drive?

  1. Woot! finally something economical, yet fast.

    32 vote(s)
    43.8%
  2. Meh, I'm undecided

    19 vote(s)
    26.0%
  3. I'll wait it out for actual SSD's

    22 vote(s)
    30.1%
  1. Winter Charm macrumors 6502a

    Winter Charm

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    #1
    I was looking around at new hard drive tech, and the Seagate Momentus XT caught my eye.

    It's very affordable (at $160ish) and its a Hybrid drive. What that means is they have 4GB of Solid state memory combined with a 500GB 7200 RPM hard drive platter. The nice part is that there are no complicated partitions or anything like that. Rather, the onboard chip copies commonly used data onto the 4GB SSD. This means boot files and stuff are read off the SSD, but you still have the advantage of 500GB at 1/5 the cost of the SSD.

    I was a tad skeptical, but i read this Cnet review. This hard drive beat the Intel X25M in read speed :eek:

    Also, at a 12 second boot time (i think they were using windows - meaning even better boot times for Mac OSX) It may actually be worth it :D

    Here's Cnet's review and tests on the drive. Any opinions?
    http://reviews.cnet.com/hard-drives/seagate-momentus-xt-500gb/4505-3186_7-34109211.html

    and here's the manufacturer's page:
    http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/products/laptops/laptop-hdd

    Maybe we'll soon see better hybrid SSD's with 8 or 16 GB of Solid state memory and still retaining about 500+ GB of actual space (a must if you do video work like me).
     
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #2
    I guess it's nice for the speed, but the reliability advantage of an SSD are absent with that one.
     
  3. vant macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2009
    #3
    So now it has to power a platter AND a flash/flash controller.

    I'm guessing battery life will take a hit.
     
  4. Winter Charm thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Winter Charm

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    #4
    That may be true but SSD's make me nervous because of how flash memory tends to wear out over time. Also, there's lots of things you can do with this that would be a problem with SSD's (Partitioning and such, running bootcamp partitions...

    Also, it seems that write performance is quite good (beats the X-25M from Intel).

    Furthermore, without TRIM support in OSX the only other option is the Indilinux controller in the OCZ SSD's because it does automatic Garbage collect... just let your machine Idle for an hour or two.
     
  5. bob5820 macrumors 6502a

    bob5820

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    Jun 23, 2006
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    #5
    It looks like they are comparing sequential read/write speeds, which is one place where the Intel fall well behind most other SSD's. While it certainly looks faster then a typical HHD I'm a bit skeptical that hybrids will offer anything like real world (read random reads and writes) SSD performance. After all you are still largely betting that the algorithm used by the controller will correctly guess which information should be waiting in flash memory.

    Weren't these hybrids supposed to be the next big thing about 6 or 7 years ago. Shame their just seeing the light of day now, I can't see them standing much of a chance as SSD's become more mainstream.
     
  6. Winter Charm thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Winter Charm

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    #6
    You have a very valid point here... but i dont think it makes that much of a difference. From what the specs say: It idles at .5W (normal for HDD and SSD) but instead of 2.5W when active (normal for HDD) it uses 1.1W while operating and 2.2W when seeking, which should give you about the same battery life... the Flash component only seems to be activated when you are accessing a file on it.
     
  7. Ronnoco macrumors 68030

    Ronnoco

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    United States of America
  8. lord patton macrumors 65816

    lord patton

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    Jun 6, 2005
    Location:
    Chicago
    #8
    I'm going to wait for some reviews to come in, not to mention a few months to pass to flush out any obvious QA problems, but I'm very interested in this.

    From anandtech's analysis, it seems some of the areas that I want improvement on, such as application launch, document launch, etc, are improved 4-5 times. That will be noticeable. Hell, that will rock.

    It also seems like the right choice for my equipment. My mid-2007 SR MBP only has 1.5 gigadoohickey controller, so getting the best of the best SSD would be overkill anyway.

    The bottom line is, the only way for me to get these speed increases is to spend an assload on two SSDs (not happening), get one SSD and carry an external drive (WAAAYYY not happening), or get an SSD and an optibay-type solution for mechanical drive (only feasible choice, but I have no time to manual sort through what files go where and worry about hibernating, which drive to put in the optical bay, etc).

    ...or I can get one of these hybrid drives. I'm really excited about it. The only thing I really need out of my computer is responsiveness and reliability. Along with the 6 GB of RAM I have, a hybrid drive like this might give me an extra 1-2 years of usable life on my computer.
     
  9. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #9
    wow! thats pretty innovative! so its built into a normal 9.7mm drive? not bad not bad!
     
  10. Groat macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    #10
    After I see some positive reviews, I am definitely getting this! The SSD is SLC aswell, so that has the benefit of not degrading as much as MLC.

    Also, 4GB of SSD enough to hold Snow Leopard?
     
  11. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #11
    thats a plus. what constant read/writes does it get?

    alas, i dont think so :( min is something like 8GB
     
  12. Groat macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    #12
    Not too sure about speeds. I guess i'll wait and see some reviews from Mac readers, but this definitely looks like the future for HDs - hybrid drives that learn your requirements and store the most used things on flash sound very nice to me :)
     
  13. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    Jun 11, 2007
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    Singapore
    #13
    anybody know if is has built in TRIM support? as osx is kinda lame WRT that.. write amplification will be MASSIVE on such a small drive.

    ill wait for benchmarks :p
     
  14. Gorilla Power macrumors 6502

    Gorilla Power

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2010
    #14
    They made some real life tests (YouTube). They compare the Momentus with the crappiest of all SSDs - Western Digital - and the WD is still faster. So in comparison to a real SSD the performance is no where near.

    However, surely not everyone can afford an SSD. I had to save for a long time to get myself one. For them this is definitely a good alternative.
     
  15. Bill Gates macrumors 68020

    Bill Gates

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
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    127.0.0.1
    #15
    I've summed up my thoughts below.

    1) It's a Seagate. Most likely it has acoustic characteristics similar to those of the Momentus 7200.4, which are undesirable in a notebook.

    2) Power consumption is too high. Again, it does not look like a good solution for portable computing as battery life will definitely be decreased.

    3) I read that it does not have any special wear-leveling algorithms, focusing more on economy than performance. If this is the case, what happens over time when the NAND cells are allocated? Does it have anything akin to TRIM to make sure that the drive maintains its performance?

    The drive uses SLC so I don't see any problems with longevity, but the three points I've noted above will keep me from buying one.
     
  16. cube Suspended

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    #16
    It's not needed. The flash is the drive's own private read cache.

    And it's not written to so much because only the stuff read often goes there.
     
  17. cube Suspended

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    #17
    The drive does its own private management, TRIM is not needed.
     
  18. Xombie11 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2009
    #18
    1) The 7200 Momentus isn't any louder than any other 7200rpm drive on the market.

    2) Power consumption is no greater than any other 7200rpm drive on the market, and just slightly more than a 5400rpm drive or a SSD. Nothing noticeable. Expect a reduction of 15-30 minutes of battery life, at most. http://www.anandtech.com/show/3734/seagates-momentus-xt-review-finally-a-good-hybrid-hdd/7

    3) There is no writing to the NAND, so you need not worry about performance degradation. It's read only. In fact, your drive will get FASTER with time as it "learns" your application preferences.

    ----

    I'll repost what I mentioned elsewhere on this forum--

    It's a far better solution than a low capacity (~128gb) SSD and an Optibay 5400rpm HD.

    1) It's far more cost effective. $150 vs $400+

    2) It isn't *that* much slower than the (already slow) Samsung Apple SSDs.

    3) You can continue to use your optical drive.

    4) Your warranty isn't voided (technically).

    5) You don't have to worry about TRIM or garbage collection... In fact, it gets FASTER over time, as it "learns" your usage tendencies.

    6) Far greater capacity (500gb is more than enough). No need for an external.

    7) Allows you to save up $ for the next generation of NAND SSDs which will be cheaper AND faster (e.g. Intel X25-M G3s). SSD prices are dropping nearly every day, and they're bound to be low enough for an upgrade later next year. Why waste even more money now?

    -----

    Disadvantages:

    1) While it's twice as fast as a 5400rpm drive (and some 7200rpm drives) it's only half as fast as an SSD. Will you notice this? Yes, probably. But it's nothing an upgrade won't fix down the line. It's considerably faster than a 600gb WD Velociraptor. A VELOCIRAPTOR! A drive that needs a 3.5" cooling bay for goodness sake! Now that's impressive.

    2) It's probably noisy. But so would any other HD you throw into an Optibay drive in order to compliment a low capacity SSD.

    3) Moving parts. (But it does come with a 5 year warranty.)

    -----

    Quite honestly, this seems like the best HD option out there at the moment (until the next generation -- and cheaper -- SSDs arive).
     
  19. cube Suspended

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    #19
    The price of SSDs is not dropping every day. There is a scarcity of flash memory because the manufacturers stopped investing in fabs when the recession hit.
     
  20. D0rk macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2009
    #20
    I'm going to be looking into one of these, but that's because I still have some pretty decent storage needs and even 160GB SSD's are a bit too much at the moment. I'd settle for something like an 80GB and an Optibay setup, but I think my multi-boot needs will clog up an 80GB SSD a bit too quickly for me.

    Plus, having never really used an SSD for more than for a few minutes or in a netbook, the XT will still feel plenty fast for me while SSD's continue to drop in price.
     
  21. John Kotches macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2010
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    Troy, IL (STL Area)
    #21
    Pardon me? There aren't issues with partitioning an SSD.

    As for the lifetime -- hard drives wear out over time too - they're called "bad sectors".

    10,000 erase/write cycles per block is quite a lot of data on an MLC SSD and they are increasing the expected write lifetime of the cell. On a 250GB drive, that's 2.5 Petabytes of writing. If every block were written every day, it would be 30 years of usable life (100000/365).


    I believe the next gen of drives will all have some form of garbage collection native to the drive to compensate for an OS that might or might not have it.

    I "suffer" through with a G.Skill Titan (about 15 months old) and it's performance even after having been reformatted and reloaded a couple of times (both PC and MAC use) is superb.

    As an FYI, it's Indilinx.

    No relation to an OS ;-)
     
  22. Xombie11 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2009
    #22
    I disagree. I've had SlickDeals sending me Deal Alerts for SSDs over the past few months, and there is no doubt that the prices are falling -- I get several deals each day, one better than the next. This may be because the next generation NAND drives are about to arrive, but I mainly attribute it to overproduction of current-gen SSDs and new advances in SSD tech, like cheaper components.

    RAM fabs may have taken a hit (prices are soaring!) but flash memory most certainly hasn't. You could even look at the prices of USB flash drives... they're free-falling as well.
     
  23. cube Suspended

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    #23
    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/print/9175690/Why_aren_t_SSDs_getting_cheaper_

    Flash price has been rising the whole of 2009.
     
  24. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #24
    ooooohhhh i think i have completely misundersood what this drive is. i thought there were 2 drives in one, the SSD and the mechanical - and that you could partition both as you pleased.

    thats ridiculous then. i dont want it.
     
  25. iSpoody 1243 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2008
    Location:
    Australia
    #25
    As long as it doesn't use too much extra battery life over a ssd or hdd this is something i would get. I'm not to fond of the current price of ssd's.
     

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