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Seagate’s hybrid storage drive causing frustration for users

Posted 18 February 2011 08:00 CET by wconeybeer

Seagate executives had high hopes for the success of their Momentus XT hybrid storage drives when the product hit the market last July. Unfortunately, some who have purchased the drive, which was billed as the “world’s fastest 2.5-inch hard drive,” have experienced nothing but frustration thus far.

Owners of the Momentus XT, which is dubbed “hybrid” for combining traditional HDD and SSD technologies, have reported frequent lagging, lock-ups, and beeping noises which have been attributed to the drive’s Advanced Power Management (APM) system.  The purpose of the APM is to spin down the drive when not in use to lessen wear, increase the life span, and reduce the power consumption of the device.

Darren Dittrich, owner of four 500GB Momentus XT hybrids, purchased and ran a SMART (self-monitoring, analysis, and reporting technology) utility on his drives after experiencing poor performance with each. The utility reported that just one of the drives had spun down and up 65,535 times in just one month of use.

Seagate has released a firmware upgrade to deal with the APM system issues, but Dittrich claims that even after updating, he is still having issues to the point that his hybrid performance is still worse than the traditional HDD it replaced.

“[The remaining issues] are temporary and bearable, but very annoying for me, even more difficult for some folks on the forums ,” Dittrich told Computerworld.  “I only have experience on the Mac side of the house, but there are plenty of PC users out there as well, who are experiencing spin-down/up, drive stalls, and the like.”

“Most of these anomalies have already been resolved by the current SD24 firmware upgrade located on the Seagate support forum or through our technical support team,” a Seagate spokesman said. “The few remaining concerns include beeping sounds, no spin down in power saving modes and intermittent hangs, most notably on MacBook Pro systems. Seagate remains focused on resolving these issues as well.”

Hopefully the company is able to figure out what is causing the Momentus XT hybrid’s performance degradation soon. I, as a consumer, would be incredibly frustrated if I had bought one of these drive’s for the touted speed and found out that an unresolved issue was caused persistent lagging and beeping.

Seán
Senior Administrator & Reviewer
Posted on: 18 Feb 11 10:35
The spin-up stutter doesn’t really bother me with my Netbook, since the drive generally spins down when I’m sitting on a screen reading something or writing an e-mail. However, I’d imagine this would be frustrating in a desktop where you don’t actually hear the drive spinning up/down and then gets annoyed every time the PC hangs for a few seconds.

What I am surprised about is that nobody has tried creating a simple work-around.

As this is a 2.5” HDD which uses very little power anyway, for a desktop PC, it could easily be made to just spin continuously. One method would be for Seagate to release a desktop usage specific firmware for existing drives and have a jumper on newer hybrid drives where the user can choose whether to enable APM.

Another workaround would be to create a background utility that simply writes a kilobyte of data to a file on the drive every couple of seconds. The on-board SSD only caches frequent read operations, so this would not affect the SSD area. Even if the 1KB write took place every 5 seconds, this would not affect the drive’s performance, but should be enough to keep the drive constantly spinning.
0 Agree

AllanDeGroot
MyCE Resident
Posted on: 18 Feb 11 16:35
I don't know why anyone would use one of these notebook drives in a desktop.

For Notebooks? availability of the Intel "Salt River" SSD drives (or even Intel Flash Cache) that many notebooks will accept make the seagate hybred drive little more than a gimick.and future footnote in HDD development.

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0 Agree

Blu-rayFreak
MyCE Resident
Posted on: 18 Feb 11 17:24
Sounds like it's mostly just an issue for MacBook Pro systems? According to Seagate at least...
0 Agree

debro
Blown to smitherines
Posted on: 20 Feb 11 11:03
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanDeGroot
I don't know why anyone would use one of these notebook drives in a desktop.

For Notebooks? availability of the Intel "Salt River" SSD drives (or even Intel Flash Cache) that many notebooks will accept make the seagate hybred drive little more than a gimick.and future footnote in HDD development.

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Besides much higher capacity than an SSD & SSD-like performance compared to standard HDD, even 10K rpm desktop HDD's can't match the speed?
They're also approximately 30% cheaper than an 80GB SSD!

It's quick & easy to image an old HDD to the new hybrid ... it's a cheap upgrade that greatly enhances performance for old PC's. It's a bastard of a time transferring an ancient 120GB HDD to an 80GB SSD, not to mention that SSD's are not properly supported by WinXP.

In addition, it's a decent speed upgrade for NEW laptops that commonly come bundled with 5400 rpm HDDs, or even 7200rpm standard HDD's.

An 80GB SSD is NOT enough room for a decent windows7 install with a few movies, MP3's, Photo albums & etc, A 250/320/500GB HDD or Hybrid drive is.

I've noticed the issue with the hybrid drives ... commonly when the PC has gone into sleep mode .. and a user wakes the system, the hybrid HDD takes an inordinate amount of time to spin up & the system freezes for upto 5 minutes.

I've observed the freezing problem on 3 different PC's with hybrid drives, but not PC's without hybrid drives.

I've just flashed my Hybrid HDD with the new firmware a few minutes ago .. so hopefully it makes a difference

The Windows based flasher did NOT work - it installs itself to your HDD, reboots the PC & launches instead of the default OS ... but failed to flash.

The Boot CD iso worked fine.
0 Agree

AllanDeGroot
MyCE Resident
Posted on: 21 Feb 11 18:50
Correction: While I typed "Salt River" the proper name for the intel micro PCI notebook card drives are "Soda Creek"

Close...

As for XP? I'm gradually phasing out XP because I believe that for XP "the handwriting is on the wall"
I still have a working XP install for my desktop It's in a HDD that's sitting on the shelf next to my desk
wrapped in an anti static bag it sits on top of the HDD that contains my Vista Ultimate installation.
what's in the computer? Win7 Ultimate

Much as I like XP there is sufficient advantages to Vista or Win7 to upgrade if you can.
(I think Vista largely gets a bad rap from people who tried running it on hardware that
probably didn't run XP all that well either)

And Either Vista or Win7 play better with SSD's

Though I have only one system in my Area of responsibility that has any true SSD drives
and that was set up with Win7-Pro at initial setup,

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0 Agree

debro
Blown to smitherines
Posted on: 21 Feb 11 23:48
Quote:
Originally Posted by debro
I've noticed the issue with the hybrid drives ... commonly when the PC has gone into sleep mode .. and a user wakes the system, the hybrid HDD takes an inordinate amount of time to spin up & the system freezes for upto 5 minutes.

I've observed the freezing problem on 3 different PC's with hybrid drives, but not PC's without hybrid drives.

I've just flashed my Hybrid HDD with the new firmware a few minutes ago .. so hopefully it makes a difference
The new firmware hasn't made a difference to the laptop - laggyness/freezing after wakeup.

The firmware flash totalled the windows 7x64 installation on my work desktop. I spent 4 hours out-of-action while my desktop restored from the system backup I made right before the HDD firmware flash. I'm glad I can follow instructions
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