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Seagate Ships Third-Generation SSHDs Discussion


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#1 Brian

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:26 PM

Seagate has begun shipping their latest hybrid hard drives with much more aggressive pricing and now in a desktop version as well.

Seagate Ships Third-Generation SSHDs

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#2 [ETA]MrSpadge

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 03:14 PM

One question I have not yet seen answered: what happens if the MLC is worn out? Can we throw the drive away or will it continue to work as a regular HDD? That's not as much of a concern for regular SDDs, as their writes are distributed over many more cells and the number of writes will be significantly higher for a cache drive. And it's MLC now!

Generally I'm a bit disappointed by the "8 GB only" policy. Personally I wouldn't buy anything smaller than 24 - 32 GB, using 60 GB caches in 2 machines (and really like it) and think 128 GB would be plenty even for power users and heavy gamers.

And I still think a NAND socket would be best for these drives. OEMs could put in 8 GB at almost no cost (which will be much better than standard HDDs). More demanding users could add 24 or 32 GB, power users could opt for 64 or even 128 GB (already availabe in a single package). The latter should suffice for 3+ TB drives. NAND worn out or drive getting too slow? Simply put in a new chip. It would even simplify the future lineup.. they wouldn't need to produces and stockpile "different products" just to offer models with different NAND capacities. They could even easily offer SLC caches, I'm sure someone would be interested in them.

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#3 Brian

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 03:56 PM

Interesting take. If the MLC wears out under warranty, of course RMA the drive. It's hard to imagine what usage profile would wear out the NAND though over a longer period, say ten years. The NAND is by its nature written to at a substantially lower rate, and even when something gets replaced in the cache, it's a few files, maybe a few dozen, but not the entire cache. We get the 500GB drives in tomorrow, we'll probe more into this issue and try to answer the question more definitively.

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#4 ChrisMcPole

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 06:32 PM

So what is the line's name now, SSHD or XT? If they are just calling it SSHD - then I was right - Seagate did go crazy. Also what are the warranty terms on those, the regular Barracuda's 1 year is pathetic, I would not touch it with a 10 foot pole. I assume those are exactly the same, just 8gb cache added, though.

#5 mike2h

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 07:36 PM

what he ^ said. and yes, the official name is 'sshd'.

#6 danwat1234

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 11:13 PM

5400RPM, only 8GB NAND flash and no write cache still(is this true?)? Fail. If it was 16GB with write caching then the slower (random IO) mechanicals could be hidden in more cases.
I think most people will be buying the 750GB 7200RPM 8GB drive until inventory dries up.

Edited by danwat1234, 05 March 2013 - 11:14 PM.

#7 [ETA]MrSpadge

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 04:13 AM

Anand said they're doing "some" write caching now. That could be fine, as you don't want to cache large sequentially written files anyway. The drives firmware should be able to detect such cases. Taking a "wait and see first, then decide what goes where" approach would probably benefit from a larger DRAM cache. Any word yet on the cache size of these drives?

Thanks for considering this point Brian. And what I meant by "the number of writes will be significantly higher for a cache drive": 8 GB won't suffice to hold everything for everybody. Your frequently used program A might be cached, but could get flushed out of the cache by running B extensively. Then, upon the next use of A it has to bbe fetched again and written to the cache again. That's surely a massive simplification.. but the point is that had A and B been installed on a regular SSD, both would only have been read, whereas we're genereting additional writes on the small cache drive. This effect gets smaller the larger the cache is.

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#8 jtsn

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 07:34 AM

IMHO these products make no sense, except for Seagate. Looks like an act of desperation for me.

They call it "SSHD", a SSD combined with a HDD. So when you need a cheap large capacity HDD, you have to pay the price for both, without even getting the capacity of the SSD, because it's only a cache. If you view this thing as large-capacity SSD, you are forced to buy a hard-drive with it. This is why it looks attractive for Seagate.

Why are customers buying SSDs? Exceptional performance and especially for mobile use: shockproof, vibration-free, silent, lightweight, battery-friendly.

Why are customers buying HDDs? Excess capacity at a bargain.

In both scenarios these products don't work. In the mobile department they are just plain old vulnerable, vibrating hard drives. If they add more flash for more performance and less spinning, they're sacrificing their price advantage, because you have two redundant products in one and you have pay both of them. This gets even worse, when flash memory becomes cheaper.

There may be a small niche market, where users with with old notebooks have only space for one 2.5in device and want an upgrade. But in the future mobile and desktop computers will be designed around SSDs and flash memory. It will even come soldered onto the mainboard and there won't even be space for a 2.5" SATA thingy. So who needs Seagate in this scenario? They're doomed.

Remember the Microdrive? It's dead for a reason.

Edited by jtsn, 06 March 2013 - 07:40 AM.

#9 Vampire

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 07:56 AM

What about this ? ? ?

http://www.xbitlabs....Technology.html

I think this is their cheap line and you will see later this year a more expensive hybrid line with 32-64 GB NAND with Intel Caching Solution. (Haswell release)

Edited by Vampire, 06 March 2013 - 07:58 AM.

#10 jtsn

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 08:17 AM

"Solid state hybrid drives will help ultrabook designers achieve key price points and performance goals. SSHD products are being embraced by industry leaders such as Intel as demonstrated by the collaborative efforts with the SATA-IO member companies leading to Seagate’s new hybrid drive capabilities, which can significantly improve SSHD performance and help drive general adoption in the PC ecosystem during 2013 and beyond," said Emil Yappert, vice president of product line management at Seagate.

Have a look at what Intel's Ultrabook tries to copy: http://www.apple.com/macbookair/ I can't see a a hard drive fit anywhere.

#11 Brian

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 08:48 AM

We'll see about the write caching. The last generation product was supposed to get an update to support write cache but it never did. In our briefing with Seagate we brought that up of course ;) We'll see how the new ones handle various write activity. Should begin playing with the 500GB thins today.

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#12 [ETA]MrSpadge

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 03:06 PM

Jtsn, you are completely ignoring price! And "bang for the buck" is the only reason these drives exist.

The 2.5" drives exist to be put into the cheap standard laptops which pretty much everyone buys (not us, of course, but that's just a small percentage). You could fit a 64 or maybe 128 GB SSD in there, but this is already pushing the price boundary. That's just too small for enough people to sell these new SSHDs. And you could surely put just a regular HDD in there, but these will be painfully slow in comparison. The SSHDs provide a significant speed bonus for a small price increase over regular HDDs. That's all the current models want to be.

Talking about ultra-slim form factors doesn't make sense in this market yet. And at 7 mm hight you can easily get machines below 20 mm total height, as the 1st generation of Ultrabooks demonstrated.

The 3.5" drives replace regular system drives in PCs, again for people who need much more space than an affordable SSD can provide. The performance improvement over a regular HDD should be significant here as well. The SSHD has to be cheaper than a combo of HDD and small SSD (either as system drive or as cache, e.g. with SRT) for this product to make sense. And handling will be easy - it's completely transparent to the user (which is a bonus for non power-users).

Sure, for massive storage you won't need the cache.. that's why these models top out at 2 TB.

MrS

#13 Brian

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 03:53 PM

Here's a quick tease - the new drive is actually pretty darn quick, it just takes longer to get things into cache than before, which is probably fine. The cache is more persistent than before, making it harder to displace things.

https://twitter.com/...0674432/photo/1

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#14 FastMHz

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 07:04 PM

I like these hybrid drives...I just wish a way were provided to defrag the platters without assaulting the NAND, or displacing things in it.

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#15 jtsn

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 09:42 PM

Jtsn, you are completely ignoring price! And "bang for the buck" is the only reason these drives exist.

The only reason they exist is that Seagate wants to stay in business. :-)

Since the Thailand flooding they raised the prices, what moved SSDs into a new position and then backfired at them - markets at work...

The 2.5" drives exist to be put into the cheap standard laptops which pretty much everyone buys (not us, of course, but that's just a small percentage). You could fit a 64 or maybe 128 GB SSD in there, but this is already pushing the price boundary.

But prices of small SSDs will become lower than even the cheapest hard drive.

The 3.5" drives replace regular system drives in PCs, again for people who need much more space than an affordable SSD can provide. The performance improvement over a regular HDD should be significant here as well.

That's another scenario that's not gonna happen. All people I know bought a SSD to replace their system drive and demoted their existing hard drive (with more than enough capacity for their needs) to data storage. Buying another hard drive with a flash cache doesn't make sense there. The money is better invested in more SSD flash memory (gains more speed) than in an additional hard drive and that is, what I recommend to them.

Let's face it: Hard drives as PC system drive are plain dead. And in external enclosures (HDD's last resort) a flash cache doesn't make sense either.

The SSHD has to be cheaper than a combo of HDD and small SSD

First the flash part will raise the drive price beyond reason, later the hard disk part will. And the mechanical parts will not become cheaper again.

BTW: I don't own a single SSD yet.

#16 Vampire

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 07:53 AM

As i said before, according to xbit lab article expect at 249$ level a 2-3TB drive with 64GB NAND later this year.

If not, buy a 128 GB Samsung SSD 840 Pro for 149 $ for C drive and a separate HDD for D drive.

OR a 64 GB SSD and pair it with a HDD with Intel cache technology.

Edited by Vampire, 07 March 2013 - 07:57 AM.

#17 jtsn

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 11:28 AM

As i said before, according to xbit lab article expect at 249$ level a 2-3TB drive with 64GB NAND later this year.

And expect almost no one to buy it. :-) This almost doubles the price of a ST3000DM001.

If not, buy a 128 GB Samsung SSD 840 Pro for 149 $ for C drive and a separate HDD for D drive.

For desktop use I would say go for the 256 GB model and pair it with a 1 TB 2.5in HDD (e. g. Hitach 5K1000). Then put both of them into a dual mobile rack (like this). Of course, this has nothing to do with caching, RAID or anything. It just fits nicely into a 3.5in drive bay.

#18 Brian

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 12:06 PM

I think it's pretty clear that the best value prop for hybrids is in the small form factor, as noted, once you get to a more capacious desktop, there are many more options for those who desire performance and capacity. WD and Toshiba have both been pitching us on hybrid, with a focus on the 2.5" form factor.

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#19 [ETA]MrSpadge

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 04:02 PM

But prices of small SSDs will become lower than even the cheapest hard drive.

Sure.. but they're not there yet, and progress is slowing down (unless some game-changer like HPs rumored but nowhere-to-be-seen memristors comes around). Don't hesitate to introduce the SSHDs now because they won't be needed anymore in a few years.

That's another scenario that's not gonna happen. All people I know bought a SSD to replace their system drive and demoted their existing hard drive (with more than enough capacity for their needs) to data storage.

That's what I do at work as well. But that's not the majority of the classic PC market, which consists of pre-build and never-upgraded OEM boxes with far too slow HDDs and a minimum amount of memory. That market might be declining, but it's still huge. And if you're buying a new box you don't have any other SSD or HDD to recycle, you have to pay for all of them.

Let's face it: Hard drives as PC system drive are plain dead.

Challenged, but far from dead yet. Not sure where you live, but here in Germany I know lots of price-conscious people for whom a 128 GB SSD for 80€ just doesn't sound like a good deal yet, let alone larger drives.

And in external enclosures (HDD's last resort) a flash cache doesn't make sense either.

This we can agree on. Unless that external HDD is permanently connected to a work laptop, because its internal SSD is too small..

First the flash part will raise the drive price beyond reason, later the hard disk part will. And the mechanical parts will not become cheaper again.

Seagate may raise the SSHD price beyond reason, but they don't have to: 8 GB MLC is dirt cheap! Add a not-too-complicated controller chip onto an already existing PCB and you're done, production wise. Recouping R&D is another story.

Oh, the drive mechanics are cheap. Prior to the flood we could get standard 500 GB 3.5" drives for 17€ (large university discount). And I suppose drive manufacturer and OEM still made some money on this! By now you're paying >42€ for these in cheap shops.. but I'm sure production hasn't become any more expensive (the flood damage has long been repaired).

MrS

#20 dnevs86

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 06:25 PM

Is the LSI controller shown in the picture you posted on twitter an integrated HDD / flash controller or is there a separate controller for the flash?

#21 Kevin OBrien

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 09:19 AM

The eASIC is the SSD controller

#22 kocoman

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 10:03 PM

What is the model numbers for the "Seagate Desktop SSHD", can't find them, could only find laptop ones..

thanks

#23 Brian

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 08:55 AM

They're not shipping yet, we don't have any data sheets with models either.

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#24 ChrisMcPole

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 03:52 PM

They're not shipping yet, we don't have any data sheets with models either.

So laptop drives are 3-year warranty. But for desktop drives seagate mentions no warranty terms on their webpage. Does that mean it's 1-year, just like the regular barracuda?

#25 [ETA]MrSpadge

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 02:50 AM

Not sure about your place, but in Germany they can't offer warrenties shorter than 2 years. Seagate adapted to this in summer 2012, if I remember correctly. Or maybe were forced to..

MrS



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