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Data Storage Windows Hardware

WD Explains Its Windows-Only Software-Based SSHD Tech 286 286

crookedvulture writes "Seagate and Toshiba both offer hybrid hard drives that manage their built-in flash caches entirely in firmware. WD has taken a different approach with its Black SSHD, which instead uses driver software to govern its NAND cache. The driver works with the operating system to determine what to store in the flash. Unfortunately, it's Windows-only. You can choose between two drivers, though. WD has developed one of its own, and Intel will offer a separate driver attached to its upcoming Haswell platform. While WD remains tight-lipped on the speed of the Black's mechanical portion, it's confirmed that the flash is provided by a customized SanDisk iSSD embedded on the drive. The iSSD and mechanical drive connect to each other and to the host system through a Serial ATA bridge chip, making the SSHD look more like a highly integrated dual-drive solution than a single, standalone device. With Intel supporting this approach, the next generation of hybrid drives appears destined to be software-based."
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WD Explains Its Windows-Only Software-Based SSHD Tech

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  • Win modem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by webnut77 (1326189) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @07:57PM (#43670645)
    Yeah, that was a nightmare!
  • Stop. Hammer time. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @08:02PM (#43670699)

    The iSSD and mechanical drive connect to

    I believe I speak for the majority here when I say.... D'ARGH! KILL IT WITH FIRE NOW! This is yet another pathetic attempt by WD to marry it's crappy line of mechanical drives to SSDs in order to stretch their relevance out a little bit longer and keep them from having to retool their assembly lines and such to produce SSDs exclusively. Weeeell, good for you guys. But as my father would say: "Shit or get off the pot." Either switch to SSDs, and eat the cost, or stick with mechanical drives because they're cheap. But don't waffle and try to do both; You're getting the worst of both worlds then.

  • by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @08:26PM (#43670877) Journal

    >You're getting the worst of both worlds then.

    No. With SSD caching you get all the capacity of rotating disks with > 80% of the speed of SSDs.
    That is not the worst of boths worlds. It is the best of one and most of the other.

  • by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @09:12PM (#43671151)
    Think secure boot. If the 'bridge chip' has a key, that only the trusted driver can supply, then with UEFI and "secure boot", they have just locked down the machine to windows only.
  • It's stupid though (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @09:12PM (#43671153)

    The nice thing about Seagate HHDDs or SSHDs or whatever the companies what to call them now is that they just work. You drop it in a system, it works like a normal drive but faster. The flash works like cache on a RAID controller or the like. It just speeds things up.

    With this, there's mucking about. Even if you could use it as separate drives, why would you want to? If I want to to just some small SSD storage and larger magnetic, I can. In fact I do. In my laptop I have a SSD for OS and apps and an HDD (actually one of Seagate's hybrids) for media and samples. My desktop is the same but more and larger drives.

    It just seems silly to me. An all hardware approach seems much better and clearly doesn't cost that much as Seagate's drives are not expensive.

  • Re:Do Not Want (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich AT aol DOT com> on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @09:17PM (#43671191) Journal

    It's not "lazy shits," it's "bean counters" that say software is cheaper than hardware always.

    It's also the Intel-Microsoft cartel trying an end run around anti-trust laws to lock out competitive operating systems.

  • Meh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WedgeTalon (823522) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @10:31PM (#43671547)

    With how much straight SSD prices have dropped over the past few years, I don't even really see much need for a hybrid drive. In 2011 I bought a 60gb ssd for $95 ($1.58/gb). Today, I can buy a better performing 500gb ssd for $350 ($0.7/gb).

  • Re:WHAT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amiga3D (567632) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @12:40AM (#43672111)

    Even if I ran windows I can't see having a driver for my hard drive. It should just work no matter what OS I am running. Sad and stupid. That's okay though as for me I don't think the hybrid is the way to go. SSD for the OS and external platter type for storage. Like most compromises this seems like the worst of both worlds.

  • Re:Win modem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amiga3D (567632) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @12:46AM (#43672131)

    Too often it means it wont work with windows either. My brother-in-law lost all his peripherals when he upgraded from Windows ME to Windows XP. He had to buy a new printer, scanner and modem. He said he didn't mind though as at least he could run the computer for more than 30 minutes without a blue screen. I remember how happy he was that it would run for several days without a reboot and that he could actually turn it off without pulling the plug. I've got a car programmer that has to have XP. I keep an old laptop that has as it's only purpose to run that programmer. Imagine when you upgrade your windows software and the driver for this drive no longer works.

  • Re:Meh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sl3xd (111641) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:27AM (#43672305) Journal

    SSD's suffer from one fairly critical problem: Longevity.

    As densities become higher (and process sizes smaller), reliability with SSD's will only decrease from its already horribly poor state.

    I'm sure you're probably thinking "but improvements in technology will bring greater reliability!" Unfortunately, we're at the point where quantum tunneling starts screwing with us, and there's little we can do about it. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle is a brick wall, and we've run smack into it. Quantum tunneling is relatively rare at the current process sizes, but it won't be long before it's an insurmountable problem.

    I've seen few SSD's last more than two years even under relatively low workloads.

    Many of the faster drives are lucky to last six months.

    SSD's even lose data to bit rot at a rate much higher than is advertised.

    I think it was Jeff Atwood (dev of stack overflow, who described SSD's as being the "crazy/hot" scale of data storage. []: SSD's crazy-bad reliability is only tolerated with because their performance is so hot.

    That's not to say SSD's don't have their place, but it's not likely I'll ever trust SSD's with data that I want to actually keep long-term.

  • Re:Meh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smash (1351) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @01:50AM (#43672403) Homepage Journal
    For that 350 dollars, I can get 1.5 TB of hybrid storage AND a small boot SSD.
  • Re:WHAT (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cenan (1892902) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @02:34AM (#43672561)

    Yeah, a drive that depends on any kind of OS besides the bare metal firmware on the board to which it is attached makes me uneasy. There are just so many more answers to the "what could possibly go wrong" question.

  • Re:Win modem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FireFury03 (653718) <(gro.kusuxen) (ta) (todhsals)> on Thursday May 09, 2013 @03:29AM (#43672687) Homepage

    Should apply well to windisks too, I guess.

    Except these disks are more standard. They're basically an SSD and a HDD hooked to a SATA multiplexer (that lets you connect more than one SATA device to a SATA port. NOTE: Note all controllers support MUXes. Also, both drives share the bandwidth of the upstream port).

    So plug this into a Windows PC and install the drivers, and two drives become one. Plug it into a Linux PC and you see two drives. Plug it into a Windows PC without drivers and again, you get two drives.

    I would be concerned about how accessible my data was without the drivers. So you're using Windows and your data is partly on the platter and partly on the SSD; you reboot to an OS without the driver (i.e. the driver breaks when you upgrade Windows, you boot into Linux, whatever) - can you still get at your data. My guess would be that whilst the contents of the drives will be accessible as two independent drives, they will be in some undocumented format and therefore irrecoverable.

  • Re:Win modem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <> on Thursday May 09, 2013 @05:23AM (#43673013) Journal

    While WinModems and WinPrinters do indeed suck and were all about penny pinching and dumping all the work on the CPU, if they do this right? Frankly it would make a LOT of sense.

    Since Vista Windows has had Readycache keeping lists of most used programs and more importantly HOW they are used so that RAM is better utilized. For example Windows knows that I use WMP and my browser during the week while I'm using WMC and Steam on the weekend so it knows which to have loaded into memory on which days, and Readyboost is already baked in to do a similar thing with any fast flash stick to add a buffer using the flash for faster small file reads instead of the HDD.

    So in this case you have Windows doing all this work whether WD uses it or not so all they'd be doing is duplicating what is already running on the system so why not use it? By using Readycache the drive can just be told by Windows "he uses this on these days and that on others, and here is a list of the things he uses most often regardless" and if you clone from an existing drive it can be faster on the very first boot by simply getting the info from Readycache and loading it to the SSD portion while activating Readyboost. Most importantly unlike the caching software I've seen from Sandisk I've NEVER heard of anybody left with a system that wouldn't boot because Readycache or Readyboost fails,because its designed to fail safe. if Windows can't read the cache? it just goes to the original files on the HDD, no harm no foul.

    If they are just using Readycache and Readyboost it makes sense, especially if it lowers the price on the drive. if its using those systems what you would have is a three tier system, 1.- RAM cache, 2.- SSD cache, 3.- HDD and unlike a "pure" SSD not only will large sizes not be wallet breaking but if the entire SSD portion fails mid boot all it should do is slow the system back down to HDD levels. If they price this right I know as a system builder I'll be taking a serious look at this, it sounds like just the right combo of speed and reliability that would be perfect for my home users and SMBs where having a speed boost is nice but NOT at the risk of losing any data. hell they slap this on a 2TB HDD and have it at a decent price i might have to see about getting it myself, sounds nice.

  • Re:WHAT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Freedom Bug (86180) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @07:34AM (#43673435) Homepage

    Similar question: Which would you rather have: software RAID or hardware RAID? On Linux, software RAID is usually faster, cheaper, more reliable, less buggy & fuller featured.

    So yes, I'd prefer the drivers in my operating system rather than buried in some inaccessible firmware somewhere.

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