Samsung and Microsoft develop hybrid drive for Longhorn

Samsung Electronics and Microsoft have developed a hard disk drive that includes NAND-based flash memory, promising lower power usage and better performance for laptop users.

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By  Caroline Denslow Published  April 28, 2005

Samsung Electronics and Microsoft have developed a hard disk drive that includes NAND-based flash memory, promising lower power usage and better performance for laptop users. The Hybrid Hard Drive (HHD) is intended for mobile PCs that will be running Longhorn, the next version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system. It incorporates a 1Gbyte flash memory from Samsung, which acts as a writer buffer and boot buffer. In hybrid write mode, the mechanical drive is spun down for the majority of the time, while data is written to the flash write buffer. When the write buffer is filled, the rotating drive spins and the data from the write buffer is written to the hard drive. This way, the hybrid drive can save power by keeping the spindle motor in idle mode almost all the time, while the operating system writes to the flash write buffer. According to Samsung, the drive can reduce power consumption of up to 95% when the disk is not spinning. While the costs of hybrid drives may slightly increase due to the extra flash memory, Samsung said this will be compensated by several factors, including lower maintenance costs, faster boot time — especially when the computer uses Longhorn — and increased reliability, such as reduced heat dissipation, which can greatly lessen the possibility of shock and impact damage. Microsoft has been working with Samsung since 2003 in developing next-generation disk drives for notebook computers that will eliminate costly inefficiencies. “Hybrid drive architecture is extremely important to the future design of mobile computers. It is an advancement that will improve the performance and reliability of any computer using the Windows Longhorn operating system,” said Tom Phillips, general manager of Windows Hardware Experience Group, Microsoft. Samsung plans to covert the HHD prototype into products manufactured and marketed by Samsung’s HDD division as well as other HDD OEMs. It expects HHD-enabled notebooks to begin shipping in large quantities in late 2006.

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