Seagate gets in on the SSD game while WD and SanDisk team up

It's been a while coming but Seagate has finally joined the ranks of the consumer-class solid state crowd. They've just announced their first SSD for the masses, the 600 SSD, while rivals Western Digital have teamed up with memory-maestros SanDisk to create a brand new WD Black solid state hybrid drive (SSHD).

As one of the major players in the hard drive market it's a surprise Seagate have waited this long to put out a commercial drive, despite having enterprise offerings out there for a while now.

The new Seagate 600 SSD is sporting the same Link A Media Device LM87800 controller as Corsair lately used on their Neutron and Neutron GTX, so we wont get any of the funny business associated with SandForce memory controllers. Seagate though is pairing it up with the latest 19nm MLC NAND from Toshiba versus the 24nm Toggle NAND found in the top-end Neutron GTX.

Elsewhere it's the rather more standard story of a SATA 6Gbps interface and available capacities going up to the 480GB mark.

It's being marketed as the 'ultimate laptop SSD' but with sequential read speeds topping 500MB/s it's not going to be much of a slouch on the desktop either. And given that it's reportedly got relatively high idle power demands it might not actually be the best fit for your mobile life anyways.

So where Seagate is finally going the whole hog roast and dipping both feet into the solid state apple sauce, Western Digital is still banking on the price of high-capacity SSDs putting off people that need greater storage at high speed.

Their new WD Black SSHD is using Western Digital's own top-end rotational drive technology and pairing it up with SanDisk's latest 19nm flash memory. The hybrid drive is designed to fuse the performance of flash memory with the capacity and lower price of standard hard drives, using a small amount of flash as a cache for the main drive. They don't give the same levels of performance as the top SSDs of today, but if they can undercut 480GB SSDs significantly then the fact they're running at a slightly slower pace might not matter so much.

But I've yet to be convinced by a performance hybrid drive, though I'm open to the possibilities. However, with the prices of 480GB full SSDs coming down as demand rises, I've got a feeling the SSHD market is fighting an uphill battle. Prove me wrong, WD...

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.