Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid Drive E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage
Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 24 May 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid Drive
Features and Specifications
First Look: Seagate Momentus-XT
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
Real-World Performance
HDD vs Hybrid Drive vs SSD
Seagate Momentus-XT Conclusion

Real-World Performance

Benchmark tests are a good way to measure performance for task-X between product-Y and product-Z. Unfortunately, synthetic benchmarks are not always applicable to the product being tested. In the past few years Solid State Drive (SSD) technology has made traditional HDD benchmark tools nearly meaningless, because operational performance (IOPS) must now be taken into consideration in addition to bandwidth speed. With the introduction of Seagate's SSD-hybrid technology, our tests must shift to yet another perspective to account for the Adaptive Memory Technology learning curve. To illustrate my point, I'll use an example of another emerging technology that fits this situation: electric vehicles.

Take the electric motorcycle; more specifically the KillaCycle electric motorcycle (which holds a faster world-record than the electric dragster). Much like the SSDs we've come to admire, the electric motorcycle takes off from 0-60 is less than one second. The difference between an SSD and HDD is easily demonstrated by the drag racing event shown below:

KillaCycle New Record 7.86 @ 169 MPH Bandimere Speedway NEDRA event

My point is this: you can't measure the KillaCycle's performance using a long-distance benchmark. Much like the SSD or SSD-Hybrid, they are extremely fast off the start but reach their peak performance very early. You couldn't fairly test the electric motorcycle in the Baja-500, which is why large-file transfer tests are not always appropriate for SSDs, nor are the synthetic benchmark tests we often use.

Windows-7 System Restart Benchmark

Quantitative results help compare products, and a measurable real-world test is probably the best tool to contrast the various storage solutions. Using our guide on Windows 7 System Image Disc Recovery, Benchmark Reviews cloned our 64-bit Windows-7 Ultimate Edition test platform to three different storage devices: performance desktop HDD, SSD-Hybrid, and SSD. Each test was measured using the Windows Event Log to indicate the precise time the computer restart was initiated, followed by the initial startup of Windows (Microsoft Windows 6.01. 7600 Multiprocessor Free), and finally the total time elapsed to load all system services. Each cloned drive was restarted three times prior to testing (Seagate Momentus-XT received five restarts to ensure Adaptive Memory would utilize SSD functionality), and three test runs were conducted. The times for all three tests were identical for each drive, so no averaging was necessary.

Windows-7_Restart_Benchmark.png

Based on the results of our Windows-7 reboot tests, the Seagate Momentus-XT truly demonstrates how it offers the best of both worlds. The 500GB Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid Drive took 12% longer (5-seconds) to boot into Windows than our 128GB OCZ Vertex SSD, but loaded the O/S 15% faster (7-seconds) than the 300GB Western Digital VelociRaptor high-performance HDD. Inspecting the total system start-up time (which includes all system services) reveals that the Seagate Momentus XT loaded the entire system 22% faster (33-seconds) than the WD VelociRaptor, and trailed behind the Vertex SSD by only 7% (8-seconds).

Clearly demonstrated, the Seagate Momentus-XT behaves much more like an SSD than it does a hard drive. Plus, you're not going to find a 500GB SSD that costs only $150.

Drive Hardware

In the next section, I share my final thoughts on the struggle between SSD and HDD technology before delivering my conclusion and final product rating.



 

Comments 

 
# Thanks again for the exceptional reviewK Gregory 2010-05-24 15:44
Very complete, and the forward 'honesty' is welcomed. I still have some skepticism about the product. I think Seagate 'skimped' on technology that could have been included in order to 'milk' cash that this product line/type can bring in as far as possible.

However, I'll look to see a true 'desktop' release hybrid configuration to confirm or unseat my skepticism. 6Gb/s interface, 64MB cache, 10k speed, Nand that offers both read and write benefits and perhaps even dual porting -now that the 6Gb/s interface offers the signal strength to meet such a feature without too many issues.

Time will tell. Again great review.
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# A Mistake!Rahul 2010-05-24 17:44
According to marketing I think that Seagate Adaptive Technology focused ONLY on Real World Uses and not BENCHMARKS. So, I think the 1st and 2nd Con should not have been put here.
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# RE: A Mistake!Olin Coles 2010-05-24 18:25
As I mentioned several times throughout the article, the Adaptive Memory technology does not apply to all benchmarks (it does apply to some). I suggest that you re-read the article, since you've missed several points I've made.
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# MicrokingRyan 2010-05-24 22:34
Would like to know more about these hybrids?

1.) Can you defrag them? Do you need a special tool? Can you damage the SSD portion by defragmenting the drive?

2.) What about Raiding these drives? Is is possible and what should be concerned with? Can you defrag them Raided?

3.)Special drivers? Does the OS matter with regard to performance?

I wonder how these would perform in a server environment raided?
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# RE: MicrokingOlin Coles 2010-05-25 06:59
Consumers should consider these drives as standard hard disks, with the ability to cache the most-used applications into the SSD portion. You can/should defragment this drive, because all of the data is written to the hard disk and not the SSD. There are no special drivers needed or used.

As for RAID, we only received the single unit. I don't wish to speculate on how the Momentus XT would perform in RAID without more experience witht he product.
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# RaidAdam Postma 2010-05-26 08:44
@ Ryan
I read a different review and RAID is definitely possible and brings the performance even closer to SSD levels. Because they are just normal Hard Drives to the operating system, you can do anything with them that you can with a ordinary Hard Drive.

Defragging won't damage the SSD portion, but in case something does damage the SSD portion seagate said your drive should still operate as an ordinary hard drive.
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# RE: Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid DriveDual 2010-06-25 00:29
"Each cloned drive was restarted three times prior to testing (Seagate Momentus-XT received five restarts to ensure Adaptive Memory would utilize SSD functionality)": doesn't this point to a potential problem in that real-world use of a drive involves a constantly-changing array of tasks? I only reboot my CPU (Mac) about every two weeks or so. The hybrid can't be expected to 'memorize' launch data for the scores of apps I use, or the other tasks a hybrid can potentially accelerate.

If 'learning' is so important for these drives, that fact must have a significant impact on dynamic, real-world performance.
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# RE: RE: Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid DriveOlin Coles 2010-06-25 19:42
If you want immediate gratification without a learning curve, there's a solution called the SSD. It's more expensive and has much less capacity, but it's faster every time. For everyone else who needs storage capacity and is willing to wait for the second or third time a program is accessed for it to be 'learned and cached', the hybrid SSD is ideal.
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# RE: RE: RE: Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid DriveDual 2010-06-28 01:18
Thanks Assuming you're not being snarky, yes I know about SSD's. The reason for my comment was twofold: AFAIK (I do have a problem with skimming at times) the performance hit caused by the learning curve is not discussed in the review, and neither is the cache depth a hybrid drive has to support multiple applications and tasks (in other words: having launched app X 5 times to teach the drive, how long before that information is wiped by other activity?)

Extrapolating from the article, and perhaps in error, it seems to me that a hybrid drive best might support a user who engages in repetitive work, and that someone with a more varied approach to his computer and work life would not see much benefit from a hybrid. Even having to consider factors like this when considering a storage device is NEW, and I feel deserves some discussion.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid DriveOlin Coles 2010-06-28 06:50
I'm also curious as to how much 'learned' information is stored on the drive. It's got a 4GB SSD buffer, so I imagine that up to 4GB of program files (whatever files are used to operate the application) can be stored before a lesser-used program is removed.
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# 500g Momentus xtDallas Michaels 2011-01-18 10:20
I picked one up for my qosmio x305 q705 laptop. I read a few articals on the tech behind this drive but yours has been the most informative. My guess was that the 4g of ssd would be used for cache, my hope was that the user could define how to use that part of the drive. I would think that using two thirds of it as a ssd paging file and the rest as shared video memory for the TurboCache tech that is used by the 9700m video solution would give a nice boost to performance. But I have not found a way to partition that part of the drive or if it is possible or plausible. Like I stated earlier I didn't really understand the drives tech untile I read your srtical.
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# Why IOMeter only test 120 secondsAndy 2010-06-29 08:43
Does anyone konw why IOMeter test only test 120 seconds?
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# RE: Why IOMeter only test 120 secondsOlin Coles 2010-06-29 08:45
You can set it for as long as you want, but SSD results will usually be the same.
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# We need more reviews like this.Sil 2010-06-30 01:33
Great Article, well done.
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# A classic Seagate move..... sucker in the people who know just enough to be DangerousBigSteve 2010-07-08 17:38
I don't think Seagate REALLY gets it (or at least their marking dept). The whole idea of SSDs is not JUST about the speed, but also reliability (like NO MOVING PARTS, Seagate's problem area), AS WELL AS less power & heat. This abomination (IMHO) of an SSD, is like calling a jet powered car a "space shuttle hybrid".
It's a souped-up HDD, but still ONLY a HDD!
Ever wonder why Seagate offers such long warranties (5 yrs on new drives) and still so cheap???
It's ALL marketing due to their LONG history of making CRAP. And then they went out and bought up other companies (like Maxtor) that actually had quality products and messed up their stuff.
Over the years (almost 20 now), I have had more Seagate failures than ALL OTHERS COMBINED (even the newer drives, that I couldn't talk people out of).
In short, I wouldn't buy (and recommend against) Seagate's REAL SSDs as they will LIKELY be the 1st SSDs to FAIL (IMHO)
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# RE: A classic Seagate move..... sucker in the people who know just enough to be DangerousOlin Coles 2010-07-08 17:42
I think you've got some misplaced anger there. For nearly the same price as a 2.5" notebook hard drive, people can improve their performance and retain large storage capacities. I'm a huge proponent of SSDs, but I'm not so in love with the technology that I can't see it's shortcomings.
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# All About ExpectationsChuck from Columbus 2010-07-26 07:37
I have had one of these drives in a Sony Vaio laptop for over a month and I am as pleased as I can be. I think part of the reason is because I think of it as an HDD rather than an SSD. Don't compare it to SSDs because that isn't what it is
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# RE: Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid DriveSnappy 2010-09-09 18:45
Solid State Drive = Massive SD Card

If you plan to not use it as a primary HDD for any OS the SSD has tons of uses, mainly being a cheap expanded SD card for storage of your grandmas photos.

Nothing beats solid hilarity :)
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# NANDET 2011-10-12 16:15
Just wondering if you added DMA into the equation here ? I am sure you did, but in windows 7 and vista, the os has been known to disable SETMAX for DMA, and set it back to PIO - mode. This occurs supposedly because of a certain amount of read/write errors. When I have restarted my system though, it is enabled again. Wouldn't this have some effect on your testing ? There is a big difference between UDMA mode 6(ata -133) and DMA mode 0(ata -33). Also, correcting this I have peaked at 120 MB/s transferring a 1,47 GB .mkv file from my laptop to a seagate 5400 rpm 8 MB cache 2.5" internal harddisk in an external enclosure, which seems to defy all your benchmark testing.....
I do not know too much about harddisks, but I seem to be coming up with better results than prof. tests show - all the time.
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# BIOS SettingsWayne Bish 2011-11-03 09:26
SHould the Momentus XT be set to AHCI or IDE?
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# RE: BIOS SettingsOlin Coles 2011-11-03 09:37
If you're installing the Operating System for the first time, I would suggest AHCI mode. If you've already got an OS installed, sometimes switching from IDE to AHCI will cause crashes because the driver was not initially installed. It doesn't hurt to switch it over to AHCI, and just switch it back to IDE if that causes crashes.
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# RE: RE: BIOS SettingsWayne Bish 2011-11-03 10:31
Thanks for your response. Was just trying to find out which has better overall performance.
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# RE: RE: RE: BIOS SettingsOlin Coles 2011-11-03 11:01
See here: benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=505
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: BIOS SettingsWayne Bish 2011-11-03 12:05
Thanks for the link (and further clarification/information). I just added a Crucial C300. Have had one plaguing problem; system won't power down. After clicking the "shut-down" button, windows goes through the normal process and shuts down, but the fans are still spinning and power is still on. Any thoughts on how to fix? Thanks for your help.
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# RE:SSD is as reliable as HddJOhnDekker 2012-09-16 06:54
##zdnet.com/blog/storage/ssds-no-more-reliable-than-hard-drives/1483

you can do a search, SSD can be as reliable as HDD
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