|Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid ST750LX003|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Tuesday, 29 November 2011|
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Seagate Momentus XT 750GB Hybrid Drive Review
Manufacturer: Seagate Technology LLC
Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by Seagate
Mechanical hard disk technology has been the traditional standard for decades, refined to the point where it can deliver massive storage capacity beyond 3TB. Recently introduced solid-state drive storage solutions have begun pecking away at the market share thanks to their tremendous speeds and operational performance. Each offers an advantage over the other, leading manufacturers to seek out a hybrid solution that delivers quick access and large data capacity. The original 500GB Seagate's Momentus XT hybrid had the right ingredients, just not enough polish. More than a year later, the Seagate Momentus XT 750GB solid state hybrid drive (SSHD) returns with a double-size 8GB SLC NAND flash SSD buffer fused onto a larger 7200-RPM hard drive. Seagate FAST Factor firmware and Adaptive Memory Technology negate the need for third-party software, and makes this an all-in-one hybrid SSD solution. In this article Benchmark Reviews tests the Seagate Momentus XT (750GB model ST750LX003) in single and RAID-0 configurations against its predecessor, and several of the fastest notebook storage devices available.
The Hard Disk Drive (HDD) technology has enjoyed a long service life in the computer industry, and only recently have Solid State Drive (SSD) storage solutions threatened to replace it. While the HDD offers higher capacity at a better price per Gigabyte, SSDs offer tremendous speeds and operational performance. Seagate believes they've achieved the optimal blend of each, presenting their second-generation solid state hybrid drive. Seagate's Momentus XT 750GB Hybrid relies on an Adaptive Memory technology that works by identifying patterns in how often certain digital data is used, which caches qualified user data access transactions onto the 8GB SSD. We experiment with two Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid drives in a striped RAID-0 array to see just how well Adaptive Memory Technology keeps up. Yet, while the name is Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD), the product is really a 'smart' HDD with an extremely large memory buffer.
When SSD storage devices first arrived to market, hardware review websites had to gradually understand the new technology and how to benchmark its performance. Testing SSDs required more preparation than HDD benchmarks, and operational performance was vastly more relevant then traditional transfer speeds. For this purpose, our usual collection of benchmark test-metrics won't paint an accurate picture. ATTO and Iometer will offer traditional measurements, but these performance readings will ignore Seagate's Adaptive Memory algorithm that improves the operation of accessing these programs and not the benchmark results. Repetitive processes will benefit from SSD-like performance, but one-time file transfers and initial application access will be handled by the enhanced hard drive. In addition to traditional HDD/SSD benchmark tests, the Seagate Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid will be used for real-world tasks and compared against the competition.
Bandwidth Speed vs Operational Performance
As we've explained in our SSD Benchmark Tests: SATA IDE vs AHCI Mode guide, Solid State Drive performance revolves around two dynamics: bandwidth speed (MB/s) and operational performance (IOPS). These two metrics work together, but one is more important than the other. Consider this analogy: operational IOPS performance determines how much cargo a ship can transport in one voyage, and the bandwidth speed is how fast the ship moves. By understanding this and applying it to SSD storage, there is a clear importance set on each variable depending on the task at hand.
For casual users, especially those with laptop or desktop computers that have been upgraded to use an SSD, the naturally quick response time is enough to automatically improve the user experience. Bandwidth speed is important, but only to the extent that operational performance meets the minimum needs of the system. If an SSD has a very high bandwidth speed but a low operational performance, it will take longer to load applications and boot the computer into Windows than if the SSD offered a higher IOPS performance.