Samsung has something interesting in the MH80-series laptop hard drives. As the industry starts turning its eyes towards NAND-based flash drives for portables instead of standard disc-based drives, Samsung has developed a hybrid that couples an 80-, 120-, or 160-GB standard hard disk with 128- to 256-MB NAND RAM in one physical drive. The flash-RAM portion acts as a super-buffer for read/write tasks; as information is pulled from the physical disc, it’s stored in the NAND, where it can be accessed without the physical discs need to spin constantly. Because the on-drive transfer is near instant, the NAND acts as a low-power, fast place for required information to “stand by” to be accessed, meaning the physical discs can be put to rest, saving precious battery power.
This next-step in drive evolution is meant to work with Microsoft’s ReadyDrive, a little-used component of Vista that makes for rapid booting and shutdown. The drive should give performance increases to any laptop, though, no matter what operating system it’s running, and should be available early summer for not much more than what drives sell for now.