Difference Between Hybrid Drive and SSD

Hybrid Drive vs SSD

One should understand the difference between Hybrid Drive and SSD from the point that hybrid disk consists of a mechanical disk and a solid state disk. Conventionally hard disks are mechanical devices that store data on magnetic platters using a mechanical head that rotates. The new data storage trend is Solid State Drives (SSD), which does not have any mechanical parts but just electronic circuits. SSDs have great advantages like high speed, faster access rate, less power consumption, smaller size, and lack of sound when operating. But the disadvantage is the cost. The price of a 128 GB SSD is higher than the price of a 1 TB mechanical disk. So today, to extract the pros of both types of disks, a new hard disk type has been formed called hybrid disk. It consists of a large mechanical disk plus a small SSD. Here, the SSD acts as the cache for most frequently accessed files. A hybrid disk would provide a large capacity at a cost much less than an SSD but gives a performance higher than a conventional mechanical disk.

What is SSD?

SSD that stands for Solid State Drive is the latest hard disk technology that is rapidly developing in this era. As the name itself suggests, these disks do not have any mechanical parts. The data is stored in integrated circuits. For example, modern SSD disks generally use NAND-based flash memory that can retain data permanently without power. So, an SSD is like a flash drive with a large capacity. The greatest advantage of SSD is that, as the reading and writing operations are fully electronics, the performance is really high. So, the latency to access a file would be very low, and hence, the operating system and the software on a SSD would run much faster. Also, the read/write throughput on an SSD is very faster; so you would be able to copy large files in seconds. Also, SSDs are more immune to vibration and shock as no mechanical parts are involved. The size of the SSD also is very less, and there would be no sound when accessing the disk. The power consumption would also be low. But the problem with an SSD is its cost. Even a 128 GB SSD disk would be higher than the price of a 1 TB mechanical disk.

Hybrid Drive vs SSD

What is a Hybrid Drive?

A hybrid drive is a hard disk that is made up of both conventional mechanical disks and solid states disks (SSD). A conventional mechanical hard drive is a disk that stores data on magnetic metal platters that are read by the magnetic head that is moved using motors. A Solid State Hard Drive (SSD) is a disk that does not have any mechanical parts where the data storage happens using integrated circuits. A hybrid Drive consists of both of these: a mechanical hard disk plus a SSD. Mechanical hard disks are low in cost and their capacities are very large. But, SSDs are yet high in cost and their capacities are also small. But the issue with the mechanical disks is that, they are much slower when compared to SSDs. In mechanical disks, achievable data transfer speed is very less when compared to SSDs. Also, the latency is high when compared to SSD. As both have its own pros and cons, the hybrid drive has been introduced to enjoy a faster disk than a mechanical disk but with a price lesser than an SSD.

In a hybrid hard disk, when the mechanical disk capacity is around one terabyte, the size of the SSD, is around 64 GB. Here, the SSD acts as a cache for the mechanical hard disk. That is most frequently accessed files would be brought into the SSD so that they can be accessed faster. So, definitely, the operating system files that are always accessed would be brought to the SSD and in a hybrid disk one could enjoy a much higher performance when compared to a normal mechanical hard disk.

Difference Between Hybrid Drive and SSD

What is the difference between Hybrid Drive and SSD?

• A hybrid disk consists of a mechanical hard disk and a Solid State Disk (SSD). An SSD is a pure SSD.

• A hybrid disk has mechanical parts involved as there is a mechanical disk inside. But, an SSD does not have any mechanical parts but only electronic parts.

• The cost of an SSD is higher than the cost of a hybrid disk.

• The performance of an SSD (latency and the read/write speeds) would be higher than what is achievable from a hybrid disk.

• The capacity of hybrid disks is large as it includes conventional mechanical disks. But the capacity of an SSD is usually small.

• The power consumption of an SSD is lesser than the power consumption of a hybrid disk.

• During an operation of a hybrid disk, there would be noise coming due to moving parts. But a SSD would not give any sound when operating.


Hybrid Drive vs SSD

SSD does not have any mechanical parts at all. They are the fastest type but the cost is high and the capacity is low. A hybrid disk consists of a small capacity SSD with a large capacity conventional mechanical disk. The SSD acts as the cache for the files in the disk and hence the performance of the hybrid disk would be much higher than a mechanical disk. Also, as the capacity of the mechanical disk in the hybrid disk is large, there would be enough space for your large files. If the best performance is needed, one should go for an SSD. But, if one has a low budget but wants a disk with a larger capacity like a conventional mechanical disk and better performance than a mechanical disk, then a hybrid disk can be used.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Hybrid drive by Yutaka Tsutano (CC BY 2.0)
  2. SSD by D-Kuru (CC BY-SA 3.0 at)