Hybrid hard disk to speed laptop start-up


Written on Saturday, January 06, 2007 by Gemini

San Jose: Patience may be a virtue, but when it comes to getting faster boot-up times for computers, no one will complain. That’s why a new industry alliance – comprising Fujitsu, Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate and Toshiba – is promoting a hybrid technology that incorporates NAND flash memory onto a computer’s hard drive to speed the start-up process for laptops.

In addition to boosting a computer’s ability to access stored data – the alliance says – the so-called hybrid hard drive would also prolong a laptop’s battery life. NAND flash is a type of memory commonly used in MP3 players and digital cameras. Unlike hard drives, which store data on spinning disks, flash memory stores the information on a microchip.

This form of memory retains data even when the appliance is turned off, allowing more immediate access to such information than with a hard drive.The alliance’s chairwoman, Joni Clark, expects the new hybrid drives to appear on higher-end notebook models by the end of the first quarter. Eventually, the technology is expected to become a standard component across all models, she said.

The hybrid technology is designed to work hand-in-hand with advances in Microsoft’s new Windows Vista OS, which will become available to consumers later this month.The technology helps to shorten a Vista-based machine’s start-up time by booting the system straight from the flash memory chip instead of waiting for the system to turn on and start spinning the platters on the hard drive.

A laptop with a hybrid hard drive could see up to a 20 per cent improvement in the time it takes to boot up and open an application. The fact that flash memory consumes less power than a hard drive, it will also extend a machine's battery life, the alliance said.

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