Toshiba MQ01ABD100H 1000GB & MQ01ABF050H Solid State Hybrid Drives Review



We’ve just posted the following review: Toshiba MQ01ABD100H 1000GB & MQ01ABF050H Solid State Hybrid Drives Review[newsimage][/newsimage]

Welcome to Myce’s review of the Toshiba MQ01ABD100H 1000GB Solid State Hybrid Drive (‘SSHD’) and the very latest generation, MQ01ABF050H 500GB SSHD, both of which have only recently become available for review by European Reviewers.

At the heart of the SSHD value proposition is the idea of marrying the low cost per Gigabyte of a traditional rotating magnetic disk (HDD) with the speed of NAND Flash Memory to deliver an SSD type user experience. The key to success is a caching algorithm that intelligently places a specific user’s most frequently accessed data in NAND memory so that a higher proportion of data access is performed at SSD like speeds.

Both SSHDs have 8Gb of 32nm SLC NAND memory. So the opportunity for storing data on NAND is limited, and the algorithm is going to have to be very clever in the way it learns about a specific user’s most frequently accessed data.

Toshiba’s SSHDs prove to be convincing.
The other opportunity for an SSHD is to write to the NAND and defer the writing of data to the magnetic disk, thereby improving the user experience in writing as well as reading data.

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That’s a fascinating review and it seems to me that there’s going to be a lot of interest in these hybrid drives.



I suspect we are going to see manufacturers promote Hybrids more and more in coming months -

Regds, JR


JR, have you speculated why this “8Gb NAND” is the capacity offered in these hybrids? Why not 32Gb or 64?

Presuming these took a year or more to develop, then “8” would have been easy to plan on, a year ago. Perhaps the learning-algorithm is still being developed and the various makers opted for smaller-than-larger just in case of errors?

Idly curious. I will have considerations for these but I’d like to see the NAND capacity much higher first, and hopefully we’ll see a 2+Tb platter arrive as well.


Hi Christine,

You raise a good point. Here’s the reason (taken from a Toshiba White Paper) -

[I]To avoid totally redesigning the HDD the afore-mentioned NAND controller and NAND memory need to be mounted onto the HDD circuit board. The conventional four-layer printed circuit board has been changed to a six-layer board allowing the components to be mounted on the same size board as that used by the standard HDD as shown in Figure 3. [/I]
[I]The amount of space needed to mount the components was further reduced by adopting small sized DDR2 (rather than DDR1) for SDRAM. However, it was impossible to mount more than one NAND memory module.[/I]

[I]With respect to NAND memory, single level cell (SLC) technology has ahigher cost of capacity per unit than multi level cell (MLC) technology, but also offers much higher performance. If the number of dies (NAND chips) is increased, the drive’s performance will be improved considerably because of parallel processing. Since this Hybrid drive could not include more than one NAND memory, a cost/performance trade-off analysis was performed, which selected the 8-GB SLC (which uses four 2-GB dies).[/I]

So, just enough space for one NAND module.

Maybe, if/when Hybrid drives are designed from scratch we will see larger NAND caches. I feel it would make sense.

Regds, JR


Is this a better choice than a Western Digital Raptor in terms of speed and reliability? Hybrid drives is a relatively new technology.


That raises an interesting prospect JR as it would seem almost inevitable that larger NAND caches will be used if they can figure out a way of designing it in.



[QUOTE=infini;2697968]Is this a better choice than a Western Digital Raptor in terms of speed and reliability? Hybrid drives is a relatively new technology.[/QUOTE]

Hi infini,

I’ve got an old Raptor that I used as a boot drive (several years ago, before I got my first SSD). It now sits on a shelf gathering dust :slight_smile: but I used to think it was great.

To answer your question - In terms of speed, I’m sure the Toshiba Hybrid will give you a much snappier user experience as a boot drive.
In terms of reliability, SLC NAND is highly reliable so I don’t think you need fear reliability factors with Hybrid technology.

So, I’d choose the hybrid.

Regds, JR


Thanks for the review.

There’s a very serious problem with hybrid and SSHD drives. They all have tiny NAND chips, but they still cost far more than the combined cost of HDD + NAND. Having both HDD and NAND in one saves space, but is 8GB SLC directly added to conventional HDD good enough to justify twice the cost? A typical 2.5-inch 1TB HDD costs about US$50. A 80GB SSD costs about US$50. That makes $100 - less than the price of one of these 1TB SSHD. It makes sense to have one drive instead of two in tablets and ultrabooks, but is having a 1TB SSHD better than having a 250GB SSD if the prices are nearly identical?

I think it’s a niche product category meant for confused consumers.