Earlier today X-bit Labs reported that Seagate will stop the production of their 7200RPM 2.5" drives by the end of this year and I just got a confirmation from Seagate that this is really the case. Seagate currently offers four 7200RPM 2.5" lineups: Momentus 7200.4, 7200.2, Momentus Thin 7200, and Momentus XT. The latter is Seagate's hybrid drive, which couples the spinning platters with 8GB of SLC NAND for caching purposes.

The move makes sense when looking at the market's state. 7200RPM mobile hard drives have always been a premium product and are mostly found in high-end laptops or built-to-order configurations. Due to the decline in SSD prices over the last few years, the market for faster hard drives has quickly faded away because users seeking for performance have opted for SSDs instead of 7200RPM hard drives. While 7200RPM 2.5" hard drives are still significantly cheaper per GB than SSDs, even a small (32-128GB) SSD will provide better overall performance when used as an OS and applications drive, and high-end laptops can often be configured with dual-drives to overcome the capacity issue (especially with mSATA around or by removing the optical drive).

As an intermediate solution, quite a few laptop OEMs also offer at least some sort of flash based storage in their higher-end products nowadays, usually in the form of a small mSATA caching SSD. 5400RPM hard drives are fast enough when the most frequently stored data is stored in an SSD and draw less power so they are more optimal as secondary storage.  

Seagate won't depart the performance hard drive market as they will focus on hybrid drives (SSHDs). Ultimately I believe this is a better choice because we still haven't really seen a great hybrid drive and the market for hybrid drives is definitely bigger and more future-proof than 7200RPM hard drives. While the first and second generation Momentus XTs have been a good start, 4-8GB of NAND isn't enough to provide the real SSD experience. There is hope that with the discontinuation of 7200RPM mobile hard drives, Seagate will put more effort into the Momentus XT. Personally I would like to see multiple SKUs with varying amounts of NAND to cater to the mainstream market as well as the high-end market where users are expecting more SSD-like performance.

Seagate doesn't have a consumer SSD lineup, so the Momentus XT is a crucial product for Seagate in order to stay in the high-end, higher-profit consumer storage market. The question is whether they will be able to make a hybrid drive a more attractive option than a caching mSATA/M.2 SSD with a conventional hard drive. Given the current pricing and the upgrade path offered by mSATA/M.2, plus the fact that 20-32GB caching SSDs with Intel's Smart Response Technology clearly outperform the current Momentus XT offerings, Seagate has their work cut out for them. In another five years, short of a new explosion in storage intensive files, we will likely reach the point where everything becomes pure SSD because the cost and performance will be better than any conventional or hybrid solutions.

Source: X-bit Labs



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  • tipoo - Sunday, March 3, 2013 - link

    Will future XTs still be 7200RPM? Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Monday, March 4, 2013 - link

    That's the million dollar question. None of the articles I've read about this have mentioned what spindle speed future XT drives will be. Reply
  • DanaGoyette - Saturday, March 2, 2013 - link

    I once tried a 500GB 7200RPM Seagate Laptop drive, and it vibrated so much my fingers actually SKIPPED across my touchpad instead of sliding. It also threatened to make my hands go numb, but I never gave it a chance to do so.

    I ultimately replaced it in my laptop with a Hitachi 750GB 7200RPM drive. Very little vibration there. As for the Seagate drive, I ended up putting a rubber case on it, and sticking it in my HP Microserver as a system drive. (Yes, even inside the server, it still needed a rubber case.)

    So, I won't miss those Seagate drives.
  • Jinxed_07 - Saturday, March 2, 2013 - link

    Maybe I'm just a fool, but I don't see SSDs because the one and only storage options in the future. The fact of the matter is that flash storage is, and always will be, volatile. Using one is akin to playing Russian roulette, in a best case scenario would keep your data for 5 years then have it blown away. Of course you could back it up several times by then, but the nature of NAND is that it becomes harder and harder for the flash memory to hold it's charge as the size of the chip is shrank to obtain those higher densities.
    I'm not too excited about the release of a theoretical 1TB SSD because it's probably going to be way too unstable to be trustworthy to hold MY data, and OZC already made a PCIe SSD with that capacity (if you can't find it for sale anywhere it was probably discontinued because it was, you guessed it, too unstable.)
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, March 2, 2013 - link

    I don't get your point about 1TB SSDs being unstable. Enterprise SSDs are available in capacities of over 10TB per drive and they are not "unstable". Reply
  • ShieTar - Monday, March 4, 2013 - link

    You seem to confuse RAM-drives with NAND-Flash drives. There is nothing volatile about flash, beyond the fact that all semiconductors are chemically meta-stable and will degrade if you leave them lying around for a few centuries. But thats true for mechanical hard-drives as well, they will demagnetize in the long run just as well. In reality, if you backup data on a SSD, a HDD and a DVD, the SSD has the best chances of those three to still be readable 20 years from now.

    And the OCZ line of PCIe SSD hasn't gone anywhere, you can still buy their 3.2TB R-Drive if you happen to have a 20k$ lying around for that purpose. It's just not the kind of product you find on a "save 20$" kind of sales anouncement.
  • phillyry - Thursday, March 7, 2013 - link

    While NAND may be non-volatile, it does still degrade over time with use. As Anand has stated in one of his articles, the cells eventually cannot hold a charge. This is the reason for 3k-5k p/e (program/erase cycle) ratings and the respective 3-5yr warranties.

    I wouldn't agree with the OP insofar as to say that SSDs become unstable over a certain size or all of a sudden but I think that they may be alluding to the ever decreasing cell size as we step down process nodes and the inherent difficulty that arises from smaller cell sizes, as well as by going from SLC to MLC and now TLC with the 20nm TLC Samsung 840.

    To quote Kristian, "adding more bits per cell reduces endurance and also increases program, erase and read latencies." This is from his article on Samsung's 840 and the move to TLC. http://www.anandtech.com/show/6329/samsung-release...


    This trade-off from SLC to MLC and subsequently from MLC to TLC is one of the major factors driving price down and capacities up, so the point is valid, in this respect. That being said, it has also been noted that improvements have been made (to the controllers mostly, I believe, and through over provisioning) that allow us to continue to move down the process node and increase the number of bits per cell, with trade-offs that have proven to be acceptable while continuing to increase the reliability of SSDs over time through controller and firmware improvements.
  • Notmyusualid - Saturday, March 2, 2013 - link

    And it was absolutely wonderful.

    And I'm quite surprised they are dropping 7200rpm, they will just leave the market more open to those producing hybrid drives with 7200rpm internals.

    FYI, they laptop housing that drive was stolen. That is the only reason it was replaced.
  • tipoo - Saturday, March 2, 2013 - link

    I still love my Momentus XT 750 even in the face of SSDs, I was hoping they would release a 1TB one with 16GB or more flash cache. The capacity per dollar is still appealing and the performance is notably better over standard 7200RPM drives. Reply
  • Beenthere - Saturday, March 2, 2013 - link

    2.5" Laptop HDDs are terrible for performance. A reliable SSD should be the norm, but some folks want 47 Terabytes of storage for their laptop so hybrids will serve as hack-ware substitute until SSD prices drop and SSD quality improves. Reply

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