We all love SSDs, but they are expensive and are not up to the capacities we require for serious editing. So could a combined hard disk with built in quick response flash memory be the answer? Toshiba think so.
We are not talking about what makes your Prius dodge petrol stations, these are two new 2.5" disk drives from Toshiba that are designed for notebooks. Available in 1TB and 750GB sizes, the drives also have 8GB of NAND Flash memory built in. They go by the snappy names of MQ01ABDH 100 and MQ01ABDH 075 respectively.
So what makes these drives special and how could they be of interest to video professionals? OK, here comes the science!
'Developed to enhance the PC user experience, the new 2.5-inch 9.5mm high SATA Hybrid Drive series features “self-learning” caching algorithms that learn the system user’s data access patterns to optimize performance. The self-learning caching algorithms also manage which user data is stored to the NAND Flash for quick response to the near future access from the host, as well as how the data in the NAND Flash is updated based on intelligent access pattern learning.'
Now we all know that Final Cut Pro X is pretty hard on external drives, especially when it comes to generating and storing the thumbnail strips. If these drives could store the data that FCPX needs quickly, then we should see faster editing available. Sometimes we get frustrated when we have to sit and wait whilst the browser redraws.
Are these disks suitable for video editing? Toshiba's Product Sheet shows benchmark tests with transfer speeds of over 80MB/s which is three times that of a conventional 5400 rpm 1 TB drive. That all looks pretty slow compared to the blistering speed of SSD Thunderbolt drives, but this technology is bound to trickle down through the entire HDD range. The other benefits are a faster boot time for the computer and applications.
“Hybrid Drives represents a significant innovative technology for Toshiba in combining the high-performance features of NAND Flash, with the key HDD attributes of large capacity and cost-effective data storage,” said Joel Hagberg, vice president of marketing at Toshiba’s Storage Business Unit. “As the only storage company which designs and manufactures HDDs as well as NAND flash, Toshiba is in a unique position to capitalize on these benefits because the expertise on how these technologies function resides within Toshiba.”
No word yet on price, but the 1Tb model could make an excellent upgrade for one of our older 'storage challenged' MacBook Pros we have.
Toshiba are not the only drive manufacturer to have announced hybrid drives. Seagate have two drives branded Momentus XT available now. The 750GB model has 8GB of NAND and the 500GB has 4GB built in.