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sshd, guide to solid state hybrid drives

Solid state hybrid drives or SSHDs are a combination of a traditional Hard Disk Drive with a small amount of SSD storage built into one Hybrid enclosure.

The partnership of SSD, for quick access data, and HDD, for long term inexpensive storage, means that users of SSHDs have the best of both worlds when it comes to storage and speed.

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Fast access, commonly used, data is stored on the SSD portion of the drive and the larger less used bulk of data is housed on the HDD.

How does an SSHD work?

SSHD technology works by using a relatively small amount of high-performance NAND flash solid state memory to store the most frequently used data. This is the SSD portion of the drive, typically around 8GB in size, meaning files can be accessed far quicker than HDD.

The rest of the SSHD is made up of traditional HDD storage, usually 1TB and above, to hold the bulk of your lesser used files. This could be anything from games to video music and documents.

Since an average computer workload accesses a relatively small portion of the entire data stored, most frequently used data needed by the host computer will be located in the solid state memory when requested.

When this is the case, system performance improves because there is less time spent locating, reading and delivering data to the computer.

SSHD exploded diagram, what is hybrid driveAdaptive Tech

As we use different data at various stages of the day, SSHDs need to be adaptive when it comes to what file are stored where.

SSHD pioneers Seagate developed advanced algorithms to track data usage and prioritize frequently-used data for storage in the fast, solid state portion of the drive. This technology is adaptive, so as different applications request data over the course of a day, the system changes what data is prioritized as needed. The results are a performance profile very similar to native SSD products, with the added benefit of much higher total storage capacity.

Go Faster and Biggersshd seagate So why upgrade to an SSHD and not just buy an SSD? Well, SSHD is currently the most affordable way to add both speed and capacity to your computer. Standalone SSD has the speed but is currently still quite expensive for capacities over 240GB. HDD is certainly cheaper in terms of capacity for money but it lacks the speed NAND flash storage. So why not have your cake and eat it?

Whether you’re into gaming, HD video, photography or music, digital content is getting better and bigger. With SSHD technology you don’t sacrifice massive capacity when you choose faster performance.

Reliability and Endurance

SSHD design allows for minimal writes to the NAND while simultaneously reducing wear and tear on the HDD portion of the drive by reading frequently from the flash. When combined, HDD and SSD technologies actually complement each other. The HDD handles most writes while reads come mainly from the NAND.

Is SSHD compatible with legacy operating systems?

Yes, it’s a so-called ‘black box’ solution. An SSHD looks and communicates just like a traditional HDD, so it’s 100% compatible with you old system.

Can SSHDs be used in RAID configurations?

RAID 0 and RAID1 configurations have been tested with excellent results. 2 SSHDs in RAID 0 deliver performance as much as 70% higher than a single-drive configuration.

Seagate does not recommend mixing SSHDs with standard drives in RAID configurations, as this will negate the SSHD benefit. Further, Seagate has not conducted testing in common multi-drive configurations, such as RAID 5, 6 or 10, as current drives are not designed for multi-drive vibrations.

Who can benefit most from SSHD?

If you’re looking for the best of both worlds SSHD is for you. Whether you’re into gaming, HD video, photography or music, digital content is getting better and bigger so storage and speed is at a premium. With SSHD technology you don’t sacrifice massive capacity when you choose faster performance.

Gamers in particular can benefit from using SSHD drives – there are 3 main usage scenarios for which SSHD drives are ideal:

Playstation 4 upgrade drive: Seagate 1TB Laptop SSHD 

Upgrading to the 1TB version doubles the standard storage capacity of PS4, while also reducing boot up time and loading times for games, levels and terrain/maps. Reducing load times by even a few second per load increases the amount of time available for actual gaming.

Ideal main drive for a Value/Budget Gaming PC

Desktop SSHD can load the latest games twice as fast as a standard 2TB HDD. This drive provides a hefty chunk of storage while saving money to spend on enhancing other parts of the PC – such as a better GPU, CPU or peripherals.

Performance of some cheap SSDs can drop dramatically when they become full with data. In a Desktop SSHD the 8GB of NAND cache is only used for data that needs to be accessed fast, meaning they provide consistently fast performance.

Ideal second drive for Ultimate Gaming PC:

250GB SSD is no longer considered large sized. 250GB SSD equates to around 230GB after formatting, you need 20GB for Windows 8, another 10GB for Program files, and new games can take up to 50GB each.

Data consumption is growing faster than price erosion of SSDs. The problem is: 500GB can be too expensive, 250GB too small… So, realistically with a 250GB SSD you’ll be left with 3 maybe 4 new games installed on the SSD. Everything else will have to go on a 2nd drive.

If you’re buying ‘Ultimate PC’ why would you want a standard HDD for your 2nd drive, when you can simply upgrade to a 2TB SSHD and have the best of both devices?

Data provided by Seagate. For more information on SSHD and the range of devices check out the Ebuyer range here.

* Prices correct at time of posting.

11 COMMENTS

  1. One point on legacy compatibility – for optimum alignment of the flash data, it would probably be best to follow the same partition alignment rules as for advanced format drives (4k sectors) and pure SSD.

    Windows Vista or later are 4k alignment compatible – many others will accept a 4k aligned partition created with other tools.

    Of course, this is an optimization case, rather than an absolute compatibility issue.

  2. I’ve been using SSD drives for the operating system and storing all my other media on relatively inexpensive standard hard drives. SUrely this is abetter way to go

  3. I had to replace my old laptops HDD and used a cheap SSHD. Geve a new lease of life to my laptop. Fantastic.

  4. You can buy WD Black Dual Drive..better option than 8GB fast memory because You get 240GB SSD and 1TB HDD in one device

  5. The problem with HDD’s, they have motors and moving parts which can and do wear out. The seek / write time is “slow”. On the other hand an SSD does not wear out no moving parts no bearings etc. The Read / write times are faster.
    In the past a good cheap upgrade was to increase the amount of RAM today it has to be to fit an SSD. Using software such as Acronis, transferring the data from the old drive to a new SSD is so easy.
    The more people who switch to SSD the more drives get sold. the price will drop . Cant be bad

  6. I should have put on my previous post why buy a Hybrid it still has the bits which wear out. I did consider them but decided to go SSD. It is the best thing I have done on an upgrade.

  7. Can you explain “as current drives are not designed for multi-drive vibrations” in the article ?

    Apart from speed, one problem with HDD and SSHD is the noise factor. In a home/office environment, I prefer pure SSDs to make my PC almost silent.

  8. Hi,
    Further to Roger’s comment that HDD’s wear out and SSD’s don’t – This is an incorrect statement.
    HDD’s do wear, although their lifetime in a household is typically more limited by knocks and bangs, rather than worn bearings and surface oxidation etc.
    SSDs NAND gates do actually wear out and are sometime rated by manufacturers for anticipated number of writes and reads.

  9. SSHD may sound good on paper but as far as my experience was concerned if you are going to use a lot of your hard disk , i.e run different things randomly its just a pain in the ass for the sshd chip . I am currently using a 1TB+8GB WD sshd and it isnt as great as i expected. Better get a 128 GB SSD + 1TB HDD (preferably 7200rpm) rather than relying on SSHD.

    Maybe the performace is better in SSHDs with higher SSD capacity but still we will not have control over what is on the SSD and what is on the HDD.

  10. I think Varun has a point here, in that I’d want a larger SSD cache than 8GB.. that’s a RAM cache! Something like 128GB would make a huge difference to my work though (reading-processing-writing multi-GB datasets).

  11. As various parties have said, for desktops, the SSD / HDD is probably the best approach. However, for laptops, where you can only have one internal drive, I believe SSHDs have a valid place.

    It still depends, though. If you can find a small enough SSD for your laptop’s requirements, I would go with that. SSHD is for where you need large[ish] amounts of storage space plus reasonable quick access for some of the data.

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