Hitachi-LG Debuts HyDrive: An Optical Drive With Built-In SSD

In case you haven't noticed, very few netbooks have ever shipped with an optical drive. You've either had to get a more expensive ultraportable, a thin-and-light or an external ODD in order to have the ability to read/burn a disc while using a compact mobile computer. There's now a good chance that the trend may be shifting, and while optical drives do indeed take up a lot of precious space and require a lot of precious power, we aren't quite in the world yet where not having one isn't a pain at some point.

Hitachi-LG just might be the company that convinces thin and light notebook makers to add an optical drive, and they've got a fairly interesting proposition to do so. Today, the joint venture announced the world's first hybrid optical drive, the HyDrive. This unique device is a notebook optical drive with an SSD built right into the casing, so when you slide it into your machine and it connects via SATA 3Gbps, your computer recognizes not only a DVD burner or a Blu-ray drive, but also a 32GB or 64GB SSD.

Basically, this allows you to have an SSD without taking up the single 2.5" storage slot within your laptop, so you could then have an optical drive, an SSD as well as the standard hard drive. This setup would enable the OS and boot apps to be stored on the quick SSD, while less frequently used data could be stored on a larger, less expensive hard drive. And you'd even have access to an ODD if you want to play a DVD or burn a disc of files.

The company expects to ship the first units in SFF PCs and HTPCs this August, as the 1st generation is a bit too thick to slide into most notebooks. But the 2nd generation HyDrive will slim down to 9.5mm in order to accommodate most laptops, and that should happen early next year. No retail sales are planned, but these are expected to increase the price of laptops around $200, but that could vary significantly based on how large the SSD is that ships alongside the ODD. Needless to say, this is definitely a development worth keeping an eye on. There are also a few nice tricks you can play in caching with the on-board SSD.   Watch the demo below of the error correction techniques that can be employed.  It's fairly impressive actually...

HLDS to launch world first Solid State Drive embedded Optical Disc Drive.

Shown to boost PC performance in boot time, multi-tasking and movie play back.

Taipei, Taiwan, May 31st , 2010

Hitachi-LG Data Storage Inc. (HLDS), a global leader and technology innovator in optical disc storage (ODD), today announced HyDrive®, the world's first solid state drive (SSD) embedded ODD. HyDrive® is going to be available in August 2010, installed on the Family PC 102 series from Moneual.

The SSD capacity will be 32GB and 64GB for the 1st generation and up to 256GB with the 2nd generation, which will be ready for mass production in March 2011 and have even faster SSD performance moving from SATA3.0Gbps to the SATA6.0Gbps interface.

HyDrive performance stands to reach its full potential on performance notebooks such as the ASUS N61DA, delivering data handling capabilities currently unavailable to consumers worldwide.

HyDrive® enables a total storage solution on the PC using the advantages of three storage device types – conventional hard drives, solid state drives and optical drives - without added space on the motherboard and modification of system architecture limited to replacing the existing ODD. Only HyDrive® enables this through an identical framework to that used in conventional ODDs.

"We are very excited about the potential of this ground-breaking product", says HLDS CMO YK Park. "The PC industry have come to expect us to lead in optical storage products and HyDrive is the logical next step, where it offers user benefits to PC booting, shutdown and application loading times with typically 30~60% reduction in addition to robust media handling and playback."

HyDrive® offers hard disk drive (HDD) performance boosting in two ways.
One is through using the entire SSD as a cache by the HLDS filter driver. The other is by having Windows and Microsoft Office applications installed and the remaining capacity serve as a cache.

Having 32GB of SSD suffices in accommodating Windows and Microsoft Office applications, offering consumers the enjoyment and stress-free experience of PC usage with pure SSD speeds.

HyDrive® also enables a smaller PC foot print (7-9"tablet PCs such as the Ultra Mobile PC, for example) by removing the HDD or SSD from the motherboard and just having HyDrive® with its SSD as primary storage.

HyDrive® can offer users 30-60% faster booting, shutdown and application loading on the optimized hardware of the ASUS N61DA.

Other great features have been developed for a combination of ODD and SSD benefits, such as robust media readability which differentiates readability and playability of data, audio or movie discs from other ODDs in the market, using the dedicated burning feature. It provides smooth and seamless playback even of discs in poor condition due to scratches and fingerprints.

Much more to come with the next generation HyDrive®

HLDS have been working with their partners AMD, ASUS and Moneual to achieve a successful market launch.

"AMD's latest 8-series chipsets have both the required hardware and driver support for HyDrive, including SATA port multiplier support, which enables combined optical and solid state functionality in the HLDS HyDrive", said AMD's Niles Burbank, Senior Product Manager for AMD's Platform Solutions.

Moneual will deliver the very first launch of HyDrive® through their Family PC in August 2010, showcasing home theater quality performance.

ASUS plans to launch the 1st generation HyDrive on their Eee Top range, and the 2nd generation HyDrive global debut on the N61DA notebook after testing HLDS samples.

HyDrive is a trademark of Hitachi-LG Data Storage, Inc. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.