Hard drive manufacturers OCZ reckon they have the 'world's first true hybrid drive' on their hands, with the solid state/magnetic mix of the RevoDrive.
Hybrid drives use traditional spinning platter storage to hold large amounts of data, but add a portion of Flash memory to cache regularly used files for fast access. Despite the claim, OCZ isn't the first company to release a hybrid drive, as Seagate's Momentous XT has been around for ages, but there are some key differences that make the RevoDrive stand out.
For a start, OCZ argues that the Momentous XT isn't a 'true' hybrid, since its Flash cache is only 4GB and therefore not really an SSD, just a buffer. The RevoDrive, meanwhile, pairs a 100GB SSD with a 1TB HDD, so there's ample space in the Flash portion to hold nearly every file that'll make a difference to the performance of your PC without constantly swapping data out to the magnetic platters and back again. Which means more speed and a longer lifespan.
What's really interesting about the RevoDrive, though, is that it hasn't been designed to use the standard hard drive SATA ports. SSDs are getting so fast that even the 6Gb/s bandwidth of the newest SATA III interface can't keep up under ideal conditions. Instead, this is mounted on a PCI Express card, which OCZ claims gives it maximum read speeds of 910MB/s – roughly on a par with the two Sandforce SF2281 drives in a RAID 0 configuration I tested for PCG 231.
In that test, I got Just Cause 2 to load in three seconds.
If the RevoDrive lives up to those claims, it'll be a much faster – if less flexible - way of using an SSD cache than Intel's Smart Response Technology (available on Z68 motherboards) or IcyDock's promising SSD Xpander . It does, however, require nvelo's Dataplex software to work, which might be problematic for dual boot machines or anything non-Windows. I'll be finding out more about this from OCZ tomorrow.
There is, of course, the end caveat which seems to accompany all new and exciting tech these days. The RevoDrive is going to cost $499 (no word on UK pricing yet), or nearly ten times the cost of the cheapest 1TB you can buy. A 120GB OCZ Agility 3 SSD currently costs $195 on Newegg.com.