Earlier today X-bit Labs reported that Seagate will stop the production of their 7200RPM 2.5" drives by the end of this year and I just got a confirmation from Seagate that this is really the case. Seagate currently offers four 7200RPM 2.5" lineups: Momentus 7200.4, 7200.2, Momentus Thin 7200, and Momentus XT. The latter is Seagate's hybrid drive, which couples the spinning platters with 8GB of SLC NAND for caching purposes.

The move makes sense when looking at the market's state. 7200RPM mobile hard drives have always been a premium product and are mostly found in high-end laptops or built-to-order configurations. Due to the decline in SSD prices over the last few years, the market for faster hard drives has quickly faded away because users seeking for performance have opted for SSDs instead of 7200RPM hard drives. While 7200RPM 2.5" hard drives are still significantly cheaper per GB than SSDs, even a small (32-128GB) SSD will provide better overall performance when used as an OS and applications drive, and high-end laptops can often be configured with dual-drives to overcome the capacity issue (especially with mSATA around or by removing the optical drive).

As an intermediate solution, quite a few laptop OEMs also offer at least some sort of flash based storage in their higher-end products nowadays, usually in the form of a small mSATA caching SSD. 5400RPM hard drives are fast enough when the most frequently stored data is stored in an SSD and draw less power so they are more optimal as secondary storage.  

Seagate won't depart the performance hard drive market as they will focus on hybrid drives (SSHDs). Ultimately I believe this is a better choice because we still haven't really seen a great hybrid drive and the market for hybrid drives is definitely bigger and more future-proof than 7200RPM hard drives. While the first and second generation Momentus XTs have been a good start, 4-8GB of NAND isn't enough to provide the real SSD experience. There is hope that with the discontinuation of 7200RPM mobile hard drives, Seagate will put more effort into the Momentus XT. Personally I would like to see multiple SKUs with varying amounts of NAND to cater to the mainstream market as well as the high-end market where users are expecting more SSD-like performance.

Seagate doesn't have a consumer SSD lineup, so the Momentus XT is a crucial product for Seagate in order to stay in the high-end, higher-profit consumer storage market. The question is whether they will be able to make a hybrid drive a more attractive option than a caching mSATA/M.2 SSD with a conventional hard drive. Given the current pricing and the upgrade path offered by mSATA/M.2, plus the fact that 20-32GB caching SSDs with Intel's Smart Response Technology clearly outperform the current Momentus XT offerings, Seagate has their work cut out for them. In another five years, short of a new explosion in storage intensive files, we will likely reach the point where everything becomes pure SSD because the cost and performance will be better than any conventional or hybrid solutions.

Source: X-bit Labs

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  • gregounech - Friday, March 1, 2013 - link

    This is really bad, the gap between 5400rpm equipped laptops (low to mid-end) and SSD is just gonna be even bigger.

    And 5400rpm is just terrible.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 1, 2013 - link

    Nah... it's just Seagate. Hitachi and Western Digital are still doing 7200RPM. Still, the gap between 7200RPM and SSD is nearly as large as that from 5400RPM to SSD. A 7200RPM drive on it's own is only about 20% faster than a 5400RPM drive in certain metrics; in stress situations (e.g. random access), SSDs are over 100x faster than a conventional HDD.
  • melgross - Saturday, March 2, 2013 - link

    That 20% is meaningful. And it comes much more cheaply, with much bigger drives. It's just not true that a 20-30Gb caching drive plus 5400 drive is all that close to a complete SSD solution.

    There's a big gap in performance between the caching solution and a full sized SSD. I've tried all the combo's. so e people will still prefer a 1ter 7200 drive rather than a far more expensive, and much smaller SSD, or a combo.
  • euler007 - Monday, March 4, 2013 - link

    Well the Micron M500's MSRP is 600$ for 1TB, so no matter what people say, it's not about IF these 2.5" hard drive will die out, it's when.
  • jameskatt - Sunday, March 10, 2013 - link

    I prefer Other World Computing's Mercury Electra 1 TB 2.5" SSD. But it still costs $1100.

    The Hitachi Travelstar 1 TB 2.5" Hard Drive on the other hand costs only $115.

    With WD 2.5" hard drives already at 2 TB, SSDs have a HUGE price and storage barrier to cross. In regard to when, it may not occur for the next 8 years. SSD prices aren't dropping that fast at all.
  • euler007 - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    I think 8 years is way off. The high-end market is over for HDD in two years and the low-end in four years.
  • HisDivineOrder - Saturday, March 2, 2013 - link

    Kinda reminds me of when Seagate said, "We are leaving the low-power green hard drive market!"

    And then WD was like, "Yay, Red series for everyone! Screw you, Seagate! You want to leave money on the table, we shall collect all of it! ALL OF IT!"

    Aren't all Raptors 2.5" with a spacer? Just seems like to me every direction WD takes, Seagate calls it Opposite Day and does the opposite instead. I'm not convinced that Seagate actually HAS a long term plan here. That's a shame because they'll just slowly phase out of relevance as time goes on.

    You'd think they'd stop flirting and go on, buy OCZ, and get it over with. Everyone knows they were almost an item back in the day, then they got to quibbling over minutiae. Do they keep her dog? (Yes.) Do they keep his cats? (No.) Do they keep her scrapbooking room? (Yes.) Do they keep his media room (No.), garage with advanced building area (No.), or room dedicated to lifting weights (No.)?

    Seagate, you know you always do what the woman wants. She makes the rules you live by and in return you get nookie every now and then. Maybe.

    This is Seagate's future, whether they buy OCZ or buy out Intel's SSD business wing in the future.
  • Alexvrb - Sunday, March 3, 2013 - link

    I agree with most of what you said, but you're slightly wrong about the VelociRaptors. It's not just an adapter, it's a passive cooler (heatsink) as well. It's actually pretty important, these puppies get hot. Not that it matters, VR isn't laptop-friendly in heat or dimensions. It's thicker.

    Anyway, one of the main reasons I would have considered a Momentus XT (I actually bought one for my last lappy) is that you're getting a significant upgrade not only because of the cache, but because most of the time when you're replacing an OEM laptop drive, it's packing a 5400RPM unit. So you get the fast cache, but you also get a huge improvement even on non-cached files.
  • Golgatha - Monday, March 4, 2013 - link

    Wait what?!

    Velociraptors hardly get hot at all? I have one outside of the cradle mounted in a cramped HTPC, it's about 2°C higher than without the cradle, and still significantly lower temperature than a 3.5in HDD. The cradle (heatsink) is mainly for show. You are right about the height, it is 12mm instead of the standard 9.5mm. Something tells me they could engineer a 9.5mm 300GB, 10k rpm drive; it's just that with SSDs in the market there isn't any point in doing so.

    Back OT. Intel's RST using a 32GB or 64GB SSD cache with a 2.5in large 5400rpm HDD will perform better than anything Seagate can engineer.
  • cjl - Monday, March 4, 2013 - link

    The bigger issue with putting a velociraptor in a notebook is the power requirement. It pulls massively more power than a notebook drive (though much less than most desktop drives), and it still requires a 12V supply line. Notebooks only supply 3.3 and 5V, so even if you could plug a velociraptor into a notebook, it wouldn't even spin up (due to the lack of a 12V supply from the notebook).

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