Compare Seagate 750GB Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) with SSD

I need a big  drive to store/run my VMs under vmware workstation 9 . They are read/write intensive and I am looking to buy SSD for a quicker response time.

While searching I came across Seagate 750GB Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD). The reviews are brilliant but they all seems to talk about boot time even product videos.

How could this will scale against SSD when it's a resource intensive VMs running on the box?

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Joe Winograd - EE Fellow & MVEConnect With a Mentor DeveloperCommented:
Three comments for you:

(1) I have two identical laptops with a quad-core Core i7 and 16GB of DDR3 RAM. One has a 512GB Crucial m4 SSD and the other has the 750GB Seagate hybrid HDD/SSD. I have not done side-by-side comparisons, so all I can say is that in everyday usage, I don't see a performance difference between the two machines. That is, of course, a very un-scientific comment :)...and neither machine runs VMs.

(2) If you get a Crucial m4 SSD, be sure to update the firmware, as discussed in this article:

My 512GB Crucial m4 SSD drive has been running 24x7 with no issues and excellent performance since doing the firmware update.

(3) Yesterday I went to Amazon to purchase another 750GB Seagate hybrid HDD/SSD:

I noticed that the listing says, "There is a newer model of this item." When I followed the link, it shows a 1TB version of the drive:

In the past, many 1TB laptop drives have been 12mm high and would not fit in most laptops. But this 1TB drive is the standard 9.5mm and will fit in all laptops that take a 2.5" drive. At Amazon, it's only $10 more than the 750GB drive...well worth it for another 250GB.

Oops, I just noticed that your link for the 750GB Seagate is to the Ebuyer UK site, so here's the 1TB link at Amazon UK:

It's only £9 more than the 750GB drive at Ebuyer. Cheers, Joe
I don't think you'll get much performance boost from a hybrid disk in a VMware environment. The Hybrid disks include a small SSD on which small but often used files are stored, usually these files belong to the OS. A hybrid disk has a "learning" algorithm that makes it store those often used files in the SSD section, so in a normal environment it will take some time until it will work fastest.

The VM's on the other hand are part of large files so they won't have room in the SSD part of the disk. So the disk will perform just like a normal HD and not like a hybrid disk. Only your hosting OS will get some benefit, but not the VM's...
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Agree -- a hybrid drive is essentially just a rotating drive with an SSD cache.   If you're running multiple OS's that are all write-intensive, the cache contents are frequently going to be "stale" ... and the cache won't do much good.     Note that cache contents aren't a function of which file they belong to (the OS doesn't even "know" what's cached) ... so you WILL get some benefit even for the large VHD files ... but nevertheless if you are doing a lot of writing, the cache won't be nearly as much benefit as an actual SSD.
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Joe Winograd - EE Fellow & MVEDeveloperCommented:
One other point about the new 1TB has twice the cache of the 750GB drive (64MB instead of 32MB). This should improve performance, although I suspect that @rindi's and @garycase's comments are correct with respect to performance of VMs. Regards, Joe
They are discontinuing the 7200 rpm across the line and going to 5400,that the main difference with those drives.

You will see more of a performance boost with a caching RAID controller if that's what you are looking for.

I would use a WD Raptor if you want a disk with speed at a price point.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
With regard to the 1TB vs. the 750GB drives ...

=>  The 750GB unit is a 7200rpm unit with 4.2ms average latency, whereas the 1TB unit runs at 5400rpm, so it's latency is longer (5.6ms).    The seek time is also better for the 750GB unit (12ms vs. 14ms).

HOWEVER , much of that difference is irrelevant, since a lot of accesses will be from the SSD.

=>  The 32MB vs 64MB cache is almost irrelevant ... drive cache's are so tiny compared to most accesses that they make little realistic difference once they get above about 16MB.   BOTH of the drives has 8GB NAND caches (the SSD part of the drive) ... and this is what really helps performance.

MOST users of these drives will have experiences just like joe's => i.e. they won't really notice a difference between the hybrid and an SSD.   BUT in the scenario you outlined, where effectively several different OS's are going to be actively using the drive, that difference is likely to be more pronounced.

Bottom line:   If your storage needs can be met by a 240GB or 480GB SSD, that's probably a better choice;  but if you need the space of a large drive, I'd get the 1TB hybrid ... it's not only more economical than a large SSD; but you may very well find that the 8GB "SSD" part is large enough to capture the majority of your active sectors and provide exactly the performance gain you're looking for.
You could just cheap out and get a caching 32 gb SSD from Sandisk and a large 7200 HD

I've set up quite a few as cheap upgrades and the speed up is definitely noticeable.
Joe Winograd - EE Fellow & MVEDeveloperCommented:
Following up on Gary's point about the 8GB NAND (the SSD part of the drive), if you're not in a hurry, you may want to wait for the 32GB NAND version. The (current, available) 8GB model is ST1000LM014:

The (coming, not available) 32GB model is ST1000LX003:

Regards, Joe
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Very good idea (to get the 32GB version of the hybrid).   According to Seagate support, it's expected to ship "... by the end of July ..."   ==> which should mean it's really shipping sometime in August :-)

That's not, of course, all that far away ... so it's worth waiting for.   32GB is a big enough SSD part that it will almost certainly do a very nice job even with a few VM's running.
Joe Winograd - EE Fellow & MVEDeveloperCommented:
Thanks for posting the availability date...I was looking for that and hadn't found it. Regards, Joe
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