Seagate Momentus XT 500GB ST95005620AS Reviewajmatson - May 23, 2010
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
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When it comes to storage solutions for your computer, you have to choose between fast speeds with a solid state drive, or a slower, yet, high capacity mechanical drive. Sure you could buy an SSD for your boot drive and an HDD for storage, but that involves spending quite a pretty penny. On the other hand, what if you want something fast and high capacity for your netbook which only one has drive bay? Now you can have the best of both worlds.
Seagate has had this drive in the works for a while now, and has finally taken the covers off of it. This new drive introduces radically new technology that bridges the gap between slower mechanical drives and the speed of the SSD’s. Seagate named this series Momentus XT and it is what they call a Hybrid Drive. The Momentus XT uses both the traditional HDD platters for maximum storage in addition to a small internal SSD for increased access speed.
So what does this mean for the end user? With the Momentus XT, Seagate has developed a special algorithm that is called ”Adaptive Memory Technology”, which analyzes the users computing habits, such as if the user frequently opens Photoshop documents. The technology takes the most accessed files that Photoshop uses and stores them on the fast, 4GB SSD integrated on the drive. This allows the user to start the program faster because the data is pulled from the SSD, instead of having to spin the hard drive platters to seek the data. As the needs of the user changes, so does the data stored on the SSD of the drive. This also works for files pertaining to booting the operating system, email clients, games and more. The design of a traditional hard drive and the quickness of an SSD give a perfect balance between speed and storage space.
At first glance, the Momentus XT looks like any ordinary 2.5" drive. The magic however is embedded deep in the drive itself. The Momentus XT uses the smaller 2.5” form factor found in laptops and is becoming more popular in the desktop and server market. It comes in 250GB, 320GB and 500GB capacities, has a spin speed of 7200RPM for increased data speed and a 32MB cache. The solid state part of the drive is a 4GB SLC NAND flash module. Since the SSD portion of the drive is controlled by the hardware, the drive is platform independent and will function like any ordinary hard drive according to the operating system. This allows it to be used on any computer and OS without a decrease in performance or the need for special commands from the OS such as TRIM. The Momentus XT uses the Serial ATA II interface which has connectivity speeds up to 3.0Gbps and also features NCQ. NCQ stands for Native Command Queuing and allows the drive to optimize the order of queued requests to increase performance.
Now that we have seen the physical drive, let's dive in and see how the hybrid design affects performance.