The imminent advent of Service Pack One for Windows Vista will give impetus to a new hybrid hard drive that combines flash and conventional disk, according to Teh Ban Seng, Seagate's Managing Director for Asia Pacific Sales and Marketing.
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Seagate already offers these hybrid drives in its Momentus range of 2.5" laptop drives, but Mr Teh says they currently sell in only small volumes due in part to the $100+ price premium they attract.
The update to Vista, however, will make the drives more useful as Vista will be able to take advantage of the on-board flash to achieve outcomes such as faster startup times by storing the files required in flash to take advantage of its faster access speeds. Once a PC is running, Teh says the flash memory will serve as a cache. The Momentus 5400, Seagate's current hybrid flagship, offers 256MB of flash alongside conventional capacities up to 160GB.
Teh says he expects hybrid drives will come to occupy 10% of the overall disk market by 2012, lagging completely solid state drives which expects to capture 12% of a total market for more than 700 million drives a year. Hybrid drives' market share will, he added, come largely from blade servers which will appreciate the benefits they offer. The technology will also make its way into mainstream laptop drives, where by 2012 it will attract no price premium and will therefore become one of the factors that keeps conventional disks' prevalence high.
Teh, visiting Sydney yesterday, said Seagate will this year announce its solid state drive offerings, but would not foreshadow the timing of any announcement.