Seagate has revealed it plans to end production of mobile hard drives with 7200rpm spindle speeds by the end of this year. Such drives represent a minority of 2.5-inch shipments and are mostly found in high-end laptops or built-to-order configurations, offering higher read and write speeds than standard 5,400rpm units. But they also run hotter and draw more power while still being dramatically slower than flash based alternatives.
As a result, those who want maximum performance have been choosing notebooks with SSDs for a while. While 7200rpm 2.5" hard drives are still significantly cheaper per GB than SSDs, prices have indeed fallen to the point where they’re no longer a luxury, especially with small mSATA boot drives around.
Seagate currently offers four 7200rpm 2.5-inch product families: Momentus 7200.4, 7200.2, Momentus Thin 7200, and Momentus XT. The latter is a hybrid solution, which couples the spinning platters with 8GB of SLC NAND for caching purposes. Although all these will be phased out in the coming months, the company plans to position hybrid drives like the XT for performance and capacity demanding end-users. The announcement implies that their upcoming third-generation Momentus XT drives will feature 5,400 RPM spindle speeds.
Seagate doesn't have a ‘pure SSD’ consumer lineup, and its current Momentus XT drives can’t really measure up in terms of performance to a caching mSATA SSD coupled with a conventional hard drive for storage. Whether that changes with a refresh to its hybrid lineup -- possibly bumping the amount of on board NAND -- remains to be seen. It will be key for Seagate to be competitive in the high-end consumer storage market.
Seagate entered the flash storage market with the launch of its Pulsar solid-state drive in 2009 but it has focused its efforts on the higher-margin enterprise market.