Market Watch

Seagate Heralds the Second Coming of Hybrid Hard Drives


Product potentially could find a sweet spot between SSD and HDD adoption
The failure of Solid State Drives (SSD) to catch on in mainstream PCs has spurred leading Hard Disk Drive (HDD) maker Seagate Technology LLC to once again to turn to the Hybrid Hard Drive (HHD) as a way to bring ash-memory-based storage to the notebook market. But will Seagate’s second attempt at such a device strike a chord with the PC industry?

The new Seagate HHD may yield new opportunities for the PC industry to improve the performance of drives used in mainstream PCs while maintaining an affordable price, according to the market research firm iSuppli Corp. However, the HHD is likely to have minimal impact on the enterprise server segment, given that many systems in this area already are using SSDs and high-performance HDDs to achieve better performance than current HHDs available in the market.

A hybrid drive takes advantage of the fast performance of the SSD by combining it with the high capacity of an HDD. Frequently accessed data is stored on the SSD, while information less often used goes on the HDD.

Adopt a Drive
iSuppli forecasts that by 2014, less than 8 percent of total PCs shipped will use solid state storage as their primary drive, due to high pricing. Obviously, this means that HDDs will remain the primarily storage device in PCs in the foreseeable future.

 SSD Adoption Rate

In terms of pricing, iSuppli believes the price of SSDs will not decline to the level of current HDD prices for at least another five years, based on current pricing for flash and the low cost of HDDs. During these five years, the HHD may find a unique sweet spot that bridges the gap for consumers between an expensive SSD and a cheap but slow HDD.

Making Waves
With the right target market—such as gaming—hybrid drives could potentially create new opportunities not only for PC makers but also for Seagate itself, memory pricing and forecasts indicate. As the company currently has relatively low market share in the mobile PC market compared to Western Digital, Toshiba and Hitachi, the HHD introduced by Seagate could make some waves in this segment.

Find Out More > Hybrid Drive: Second Go-Around May Earn More Adoption