Seagate, the world's largest hard drive manufacturer, announced that it is shipping new hybrid disk drives for notebooks, which they claim will cut down average boot times by about a quarter and nearly halve the power consumption of the drive, compared to non-hybrid spinning disks.

The new 2.5-inch drive, dubbed "Momentus 5400 PSD," comes in 80, 120 and 160GB sizes with 256MB of nonvolatile flash memory cache on board. It relies on Vista's Superfetch and ReadyDrive technologies to learn what files a user accesses most often, storing those in the drive's Flash memory to help boost performance. Other benefits of the new drive include an operating shock tolerance of 900Gs, the ability to spin down to reduce system noise, and about 30 percent longer lifespan than traditional hard drives.

While the gains are significant, Melissa Johnson, a product manager for Seagate did acknowledge that hybrid drive technology in general is still not delivering the "order of magnitude" improvement it originally promised, due to first generation issues with both the BIOS and Vista device drivers.

The Momentus hybrid drives will begin shipping this week. While Seagate did not announce the exact pricing of the drive, the company said it would be charging a price premium of between 25 to 30 percent compared an equivalent non-hybrid drive.