Marvell working on “free” hybrid SSD/HDD solution

Not exactly free, but…

THE NEXT BIG thing appears to be hybrid drives, although Seagate’s new Momentus XT failed to impress most reviewers, despite offering some clear advantages over a traditional hard drive. The downside here of course is that we’re talking about a 2.5-inch notebook drive, but what if you want a hybrid drive for your desktop PC? Well, Marvell might very well have the solution to this problem with its upcoming “free” HyperHDD solution.

Bit-tech got the scoop on this one and is reporting that Marvell is working on a free update for its 88E9128 SATA 6Gbps host controller which can be found on many motherboards with SATA 6Gbps. We know for a fact that Gigabyte is using this solution on all of its SATA 6Gbps supporting Intel chipset motherboards, although other vendors are also using a different Marvell solution that doesn’t offer RAID support which seems to be a key feature for HyperHDD to work.

Free does apply in as far as Marvell won’t charge you for the software, but it still requires you to splash out on both a hard drive and an SSD to make it all work. The Marvell RAID software will detect that you have an SSD and a hard drive connected to the controller which will enable a HyperHDD option in the RAID creation menu. You have the option to either combine the two drives or to use the SSD as a kind of cache memory for the hard drive and the data is copied from the SSD to the hard drive when the system is idle.

We’re not sure how well this will work in a real world scenario, but it sounds like it could potentially offer some great performance benefits. Marvell claims to be able to intelligently measure which data is used the most often and make sure that this is the data that is kept on the SSD at all times. This does mean that there’s a “learning process” for Marvell’s HyperHDD to reach its optimal performance and it will of course also have limitations based on the size of the SSD involved.

Innovation is never a bad thing, especially when it doesn’t cost you anything extra unless you want to take advantage of it. Still, it’s hard to see that many people going for this kind of a setup unless it offers significant performance enhancements over running an SSD and a hard drive in tandem. The OS would normally be installed on the SSD while the hard drive would be used as the mass storage device and for larger applications, but if Marvell has managed to balance things just right, then this could very well the solution so many of us have been waiting for.S|A

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