David Kirkpatrick

May 28, 2010

Seagate’s hybrid hard drive

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:16 am

Combines a standard spinning platter drive (HDD) in 250, 320 or 500 gigabyte versions with four gigs of single-level cell (read: robust) Flash memory. Right now these are just about doubling the cost of standard drives with similar capacity.

The result is a combined drive that approaches the performance of solid state drives, but at a fraction of the price. According to Seagate’s own tests, the Momentus XT is 80% faster than a traditional notebook hard drive, and 20% faster than an ultra high-performance 10,000 RPM HDD.

The speed boost is due almost entirely to the drive’s Adaptive Memory algorithm, which learns which applications and files a user accesses most, and dumps those in the 4 GB of flash memory. Flash has 150 times the access speed of a traditional hard drive, but only 2 times the read/write bandwidth.

The technique of balancing a cache of expensive flash memory, which is great at randomly accessing many small files, with a large hard drive, which is many times cheaper per gigabyte and is good at reading and writing large files, mirrors a similar approach currently being explored in the data center.

Seagate’s hybrid drive. Credit: Seagate.

Here are Amazon links to the 250 GB version, the 320 GB version and the 500 GB version of the Seagate Momentus XT.

October 14, 2008

Flash drive security

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:29 am

Hopefully you’re not hauling too sensitive of data around on a flash drive, but they are very handy and cheap. Here’s a Technology Review article on flash drive security out there.

From the link:

Flash memory drives, the size of your thumb, are dirt cheap and offer gigabytes of storage. It’s tempting to fill one of them with important computer files, clip it to a key chain and hit the road.

But what if you lose it while fumbling for change at Starbucks and the hacker in the corner finds it? This is not a good thing.

That’s where a new breed of flash drives comes in — chock full of military-strength encryption and passwords and keypad combinations that must be entered before the data can be accessed.

I put a few secure flash drive solutions to the test: Take Anywhere’s Pocket Safe ($59.95), the IronKey ($149) and TrueCrypt, a free software program that works with any USB flash drive.

Each had its strengths and limitations, but I liked the IronKey unit best, with its built-in Firefox browser, large storage space and powerful password protections.