Hybrid hard drive adds flash memory to mix

Faster boot time and longer battery life among benefits

Six weeks after we first heard that Samsung had completed its inaugural hybrid hard drive (HHD) using both a spinning platter and flash memory, we have the first computer to actually use one.

The updated R55 includes an 80GB version of the MH80 HHD we saw last month, with the current maximum of 256MB of fast OneNAND flash memory to help it on its way. The idea behind HHDs is that they use the solid-state memory to act as a buffer for short-term use, meaning the standard drive platters don't need to be spun up to be written to or read from.

Time saver

The result of this combination of technologies can be seen most obviously in faster boot times and lower power consumption, which is obviously important in laptop PCs. Samsung claims the 1.8 million won (£972) NT-R55A/W181 laptop performs about 30 per cent better in both those areas.

Until entirely solid-state drives become the norm - in other words, when they get a lot bigger and a lot cheaper - we can expect to see hybrid drives as build-to-order options for a few years.

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