Apple Re-Introduces The Hybrid Hard Drive: Here Comes The Fusion Drive

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If you’ve been anywhere near a PC (not a Mac, mind you) in the past few years you’d have heard of hybrid drives. These drives had a bit of flash memory that held often-accessed files – boot files, OS files, and the like – as well as plenty of old, boring spinning hard drive plates for other files. Why? Well, the flash boot section offered faster boot times while the spinning disk could “cue up” in flash if necessary to read and write.

In many cases, this memory was separate from the spinning drive. However, with the release of Intel’s Smart Response Technology as well as other solutions, these flash sectors became “invisible,” making the move from flash to platters instantaneous and invisible.

Well, Apple just got on the hybrid flight path with their new “Fusion Drive” solutions that one can only assume is some sort of Seagate partnership with special hooks in Mountain Lion built-in. In short, Apple re-invented the wheel and, presumably, made it cool to run a hybrid drive.

The benefit to consumers should be clear if you’ve ever used an SSD laptop. Boot times are measured in seconds, not minutes and apps hidden on the flash portion run faster and shut down more quickly. While we can’t say that Apple invented hybrid drives, I think their efforts should help popularize these drives in OEM catalogs, thus allowing everyone, not just Mac Mini and iMac users, to get a little bit more speed out of their legacy gear.

Embrace and extend, friends. Embrace and extend.