HLDS demos Hybrid Drive

The joint storage venture between Hitachi and LG - the imaginatively named Hitachi-LG Data Storage - has announced a new hybrid optical drive that can significantly boost performance in portable devices.

Announced at the Ceatec 2010 convention in Japan, the new hybrid drive takes a solid-state storage device - either an 8GB or 64GB - and combines it with a standard optical drive on a single SATA 6.0Gb/s bus, giving designers the choice of two operation modes: "HDD Booster Mode" and "Primary Drive Mode."

The first mode is designed around the 8GB version of the HLDS Hybrid Drive, and uses the small SSD to store commonly accessed information from a mechanical hard drive. By caching the most frequently accessed data on the integrated SSD, HLDS claims that it can boost performance by 48 per cent compared to a 7,200RPM hard disk on its own - and that's if it uses a lower-power battery-friendly 5,4000RPM drive.

For those building systems on a bigger budget, the 64GB edition is designed to do away with a dedicated storage drive altogether. While HLDS points out that the current devices are in beta, early indications show that a system built around its Hybrid Drive perform 66 per cent faster than those using a 7,200RPM mechanical hard drive.

Combining an SSD and an optical drive brings other advantages, too. Sharing components between the two storage devices leads to reduced weight and power draw, meaning laptops can be made lighter and with longer battery life.

Micron Technology has confirmed that it is supplying 24nm NAND flash chips for the drive, and AMD is creating the chipset. Although pricing and availability hasn't been confirmed yet, compact PC specialist Shuttle has already piped up as one of the first adopters of the HDLS Hybrid Drive system - which could mean that we get to see the devices in action sooner, rather than later.