Seagate launches 750GB Momentus XT hybrid drive

Seagate has upgraded its Momentus XT hybrid drive technology - a marriage of traditional magnetic storage with solid-state NAND flash - and makes a bold claim: performance that can match, or even beat, a traditional SSD.

Originally launched in 2010 as a way for the storage giant to head off the threat from pure solid-state drive (SSD) storage companies without having to change its business plan entirely, the Momentus XT range marries a small quantity of NAND flash storage with a large-capacity traditional hard disk.

The theory is that commonly-accessed files are copied from the mass storage to the solid-state portion, which acts as a secondary cache, in order to speed up boot times and program loads.

Unlike a traditional SSD, the bulk of data is kept on cheap magnetic platters and only the data which the system needs frequently is loaded onto expensive NAND flash - resulting, Seagate claims, in a device that offers the best of both worlds.

Now in its third generation, the latest Momentus XT hardware stretches up to a whopping 750GB - significantly more capacious than 2.5in pure SSDs affordable by the average consumer - but boasts SSD-like performance for common tasks.

To prove its point, Seagate has run a benchmark on a MacBook Pro, timing how long it takes to boot from cold and to load common applications - Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple's iTunes, and Adobe's Premiere Elements and Photoshop - using a traditional 5,400rpm mechanical hard disk, a Toshiba-brand pure SSD, and the new Momentus XT 750GB.

The result would be startling, if it weren't the product of Seagate's marketing department and therefore unlikely to show anything else: not only does the Momentus XT drop load times by more than half compared to the traditional hard drive, it even manages to beat the Toshiba SSD by three seconds, taking 1:03 in total to the Toshiba's 1:06.

This performance is almost certainly helped by a doubling of the NAND flash portion of the disk - from 4GB to 8GB - and 'Fast Factor' technology which Seagate claims helps boost internal management and boot speeds.

Although the SSD chosen for comparison is far from the fastest available, Seagate's offering does have one convincing point to make: with a US retail price of just $245, the Momentus XT 750GB is significantly cheaper than the same volume of SSD storage.

Seagate's performance comparison is demonstrated in the video below.