Samsung Electronics has demonstrated a prototype hard-disk drive that includes flash memory, promising lower power usage and less trouble for laptop users.
The Hybrid Hard Drive, developed by Samsung and Microsoft, is meant for mobile PCs running Longhorn, the next version of Windows. By writing data to the flash memory there was no need to spin up the hard drive, saving power and sparing the drive, director of strategic marketing at Samsung, Ivan Greenberg, said.
This led to a reduction in power consumption of 10 per cent and could also help prevent problems that occurred when the drive was moved while in use, he said.
"The failing item in a returned notebook is typically the hard disk," Greenberg said. "If we keep that drive spun down, we believe that will have a huge impact."
When the flash memory is full, the drive is spun and the data is written to disk.
The prototype contained 128MB of flash memory, Greenberg said. Longhorn would also minimise reading from the drive by storing more, including application data in main memory.
With 64-bit technology, Longhorn can support up to 128GB of main memory.
A user could keep all of a PCs data in the main memory, Microsoft Windows chief, Jim Allchin, said.
Commercial versions were planned for release in late 2006, the same time as Longhorn, with the first samples due mid-2006, Greenberg said. The hybrid disk drives may cost more than regular hard disk drives, but Samsung claims that increase will be mitigated by the lower maintenance costs and power savings.