Seagate Momentus XT 750GB Hybrid Hard Drive Review

Author: Anthony “AkG” Garland
Date: November 28, 2011
Product Name: Momentus XT 750GB
Part Number: ST750LX003
Warranty: 5 Years
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Say Hello to the F.A.S.T. Factor Advantage Cont'd

This brings us to the second feature set: Adaptive Memory Technology which is concerned with what LBAs (logical block addresses) are copied to the NAND and which stay on the hard drive. These algorithms did exist on the first generation Momentus XT 500GB, but have been significantly refined for this iteration. The job of this technology is to monitor - in what we assume is real time - what you use the storage system for and then adapts itself to your particular needs. In practice this should improve overall system performance as the algorithms learn your usage habits and begin storing constantly accessed information on the fast NAND.

Seagate couldn’t divulge exactly what and when this happens but the algorithms themselves boil down to constant monitoring and then quantifying (we assume via a look-up table which keeps “count” of what, when and how often all the blocks are accessed) which blocks need to be on the NAND, which ones no longer need to be stored and which ones are nearly at the threshold of being on the NAND and should be next up for transfer. It then either changes out blocks stored on the NAND on a case by case basis or tells the FAST Management algorithms to do this. This new ability should make the Momentus XT more responsive for your crucial tasks while allowing it to be even more flexible than the previous model.

While Adaptive Memory technology is not new, it is much improved in this generation. Seagate claims that it starts to learn almost instantly and by the fourth usage will be hitting near optimum speeds. This would be impressive as the first generation XT only started to hit its stride by the 6th usage and was not until the 10th – or later - that it had a complete handle on your needs.

Helping to make things even faster is the fact that FAST also allows the controller to access blocks via the NAND while telling the hard drive arm to find the next block on the platter. In real world terms Seagate states this new blending of NAND and platter reads results in a massive improvement in some tests.

From Seagate’s focus groups came the realization that while rebooting a system may only occur once a week for most consumers, the speed at which this happens is one of the main benchmarks we all use for judging how “fast” a system is. In order to accomplish fast boot times, FAST has one more trick up its sleeve: every time you reboot it takes a snapshot exactly which blocks are being accessed and ensures that the most important blocks of data never “fall off” the NAND. It can do this, no matter how infrequently you reboot, because an undisclosed portion of the 8GB is set aside solely for this “Fast Boot” technology.

The down side to this FastBoot is obvious: instead of having twice as much NAND to work with compared to what the first generation Momentus XT has, the 750GB version needs a certain amount of this space dedicated solely for booting. If a system is being mainly used for gaming, would increased boot time – something you rarely do – be as important as games loading as fast as possible? We doubt it but the limited amount of NAND storage space may indeed cause this kind of unwanted tradeoff.

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