SAN FRANCISCO: CHIPMAKER Intel said its upcoming Haswell ultra-low voltage (ULV) chip will allow ultrabooks to use hybrid storage devices.
Intel has spent tens of millions pushing ultrabooks and subsidising the use of solid-state disk (SSD) drives and high quality displays. However the firm said its Haswell ULV chipset, better known as Shark Bay, will see laptop makers start to use hybrid SSDs with the firm's Rapid Storage Technology 12.5, improving access times and power usage.
While Seagate has been shipping hybrid Momentus XT drives for some time, Intel said to get the most out of such storage devices there needs to be chipset and operating system support. The firm said its Shark Bay chipset and Rapid Storage Technology 12.5 support "hybrid hinting" so the system can use flash and platter storage at the right times.
Intel said it has been working with Western Digital and Seagate to build support for hybrid drives in Shark Bay, while playing up support for hybrid drives in Microsoft's Windows 8. According to Intel, Haswell ULV ultrabooks with hybrid drives will use flash storage to keep boot times at a minimum, however Intel confirmed to The INQUIRER that it's hybrid storage optimisations will be Windows only and is not doing any work to support Linux.
Intel claims its Rapid Storage Technology 12.5 will provide a 30 percent performance boost to hybrid drives, though it didn't provide any concrete benchmark figures.
Despite Intel's performance claims for hybrid SSDs, the use of only NAND flash SSD storage on ultrabooks has helped push the price of NAND flash based storage down and capacities up. While many of Intel's Haswell ULV equipped laptops will still have SSDs, Intel's relaxing of specifications is likely to mean that manufacturers will take the easy route and go back to spinning platters. µ