Seagate has officially introduced its fifth-generation solid-state hybrid drives (SSHDs) under the FireCuda brand name. They have a thinner form-factor compared to previous-gen solutions. The drives use Seagate’s 1 TB SMR platters as well as the company’s multi-tier cache technology. The FireCuda 2.5” are the first SSHDs to use shingled magnetic recording (SMR).

The Seagate FireCuda 2.5” family will offer 500 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB capacities and will be compatible with both desktops and thin laptops, thanks to its 7 mm z-height (down from 9.5 mm in case of the Laptop SSHD drives). To a large extent, the Seagate FireCuda SSHDs resemble the recently announced BarraCuda 2.5” HDDs: the drives are also based on the 1 TB SMR platters which have an areal density of more than 1.3 Tb/in2 (note that the areal density of the FireCuda products is higher compared to that of BarraCuda devices). They feature 5400 RPM spindle speed and come with 128 MB of DRAM cache buffer. The maximum transfer rate and average latency for the BarraCuda 2.5” and FireCuda 2.5” are the same: 140 MB/s and 5.6 ms.

Seagate FireCuda 2.5" SSHDs
  2 TB 1 TB 500 GB
Platters/Heads 2/4 1/2
Spindle Speed 5400 RPM
Cache 128 MB + multi-tier caching technology
Transfer Rate 140 MB/s
Avg Latency 5.6 ms
Areal Density 1327 Gb/in² avg
Recording Density 2296 Kb/in avg
Track Density 580 Ktracks/inch avg
Idle Power 0.5 W 0.45 W
Read/Write Power 1.7/1.8 W 1.6/1.7 W
Interface SATA 6 Gbps
Form-Factor 2.5"/7 mm
Model Number ST2000LX001 ST1000LX015 ST500LX025

The differentiating aspect of the FireCuda SSHDs is their 8 GB NAND buffer. It caches data from frequently used sectors to enable faster boot times and shorter load times for certain applications. Therefore, when it comes to real-world performance, FireCuda 2.5” SSHDs should provide better performance compared to the BarraCuda 2.5” HDDs. However, it is unknown how the FireCuda 2.5” drive stack up against the Laptop SSHDs based on PMR platters. Seagate has not revealed whether the new FireCuda SSHDs use a new caching algorithm compared to the previous-gen hybrid hard drives, but this is certainly a possibility given the use of SMR platters. As before, the company says that the algorithm is continuously trying to optimize performance of FireCuda SSHDs.

Seagate has started to ship the FireCuda drives to its customers, but has not listed official prices or market availability dates. The latter depends on retailers and/or PC makers. Seagate tells us that the FireCuda 2.5" 2 TB will cost around $100, but the supply/demand situation is bound to affect that pricing. Meanwhile, Amazon offers the FireCuda 2.5" 1 TB for $70. All of the previous-gen Laptop SSHDs ended up in retail, so, it is a question of time before the whole FireCuda 2.5" family will be up for grabs. One of the advantages of Seagate’s hybrid drives is their five-year warranty, which is longer than that of typical HDDs.

Source: Seagate

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  • bug77 - Monday, October 24, 2016 - link

    I don't think this is meant to cache whole programs (it will cache them, though not by choice). It's meant to cache your data, such as the photos you edit or the levels a game loads. Those will fit nicely into 8GB.
    But that's just my hunch, I'll wait for proper reviews to see how it actually behaves in the real world.
  • philehidiot - Tuesday, November 1, 2016 - link

    I think it's supposed to behave as one drive and cache files which are frequently accessed. So obviously it won't do the whole Windows folder but if you're playing a whole game, it's not going to load the next level into the DRAM for you unless the associated files have been accessed frequently. So whilst it'll probably make your system boot quickly and any startup programs will load quickly, game performance is going to be meh and even if it did manage to anticipate caching the next level, etc I honestly don't think 8GB is really enough for that, plus your OS / frequent programs - look at the size of some new games. It's staggering. My SSD weeps at the sight of the system requirements. As does my wallet, for that matter. I can honestly see your point in that it won't cache the entirely Windows folder but individual, regularly accessed files but I still think that to provide any meaningful increase in responsiveness on anything other than a basic word processing, internet browsing machine (normally budget machines where budget is usually king and no type of SSD will feature) which usually will be better off spending their budget on more RAM or a better CPU. That said, I do appreciate that SSDs are the best thing to happen to PC responsiveness for a long time and it's probable that access times and transfer speed are bottlenecks to even low end machines.

    Sorry, I'm rambling. Too many opiates.
  • creed3020 - Friday, October 21, 2016 - link

    These drives seem like an oxymoron to me, SMR is known to offer poor performance, especially in random writes, yet its paired with a small portion of NAND to attempt to speed it up. I'm really curious to see some benchmarks with these used as DAS by Ganesh, because this product just doesn't make sense to me.

    Perhaps a larger NAND, say 32GB and 7200RPM speed would make more sense. From a marketing perspective this FireCuda branding should be top tier performance above all else. They should have stuck to smaller capacities and PMR to ensure that.

  • Yuriman - Friday, October 21, 2016 - link

    I have a 500GB 2nd gen drive sitting unused in a box under my bed. I was not impressed.
  • cbm80 - Friday, October 21, 2016 - link

    Meh...would be better to have an SLC write buffer. Forget "boot times", concentrate on making the drive perform more like non-shingled.
  • milli - Friday, October 21, 2016 - link

    Why would they decrease the cache from 32GB to 8GB again?
    ST1000LX001 had 32GB NAND.
  • trulyuncouth - Saturday, October 22, 2016 - link

    Those old drives on amazon are going for 3x the cost of these, I'd say its a matter of cost.
  • Scipio Africanus - Friday, October 21, 2016 - link

    My main laptop still uses a Seagate hybrid drive and its been reasonably quick for the time I've had it. Not going to bother upgrading it and will just get a new machine eventually.

    It's sad that my nearly 5 year old 2nd gen Momentus XT 750gb that's 7200 rpm and 8gb of SLC is the epitome of hybrid drives.
  • xTRICKYxx - Sunday, October 23, 2016 - link

    I have the same drive. I am actually very impressed with how it has stood up over the past 5 years. It isn't an SSD, but it is noticeably faster than a standard 5400 rpm drive. It is still in my old Lenovo hackintosh.
  • danwat1234 - Saturday, July 15, 2017 - link

    I still have that drive as well. 7200RPM, 750GB hybrid. The last of the 7200RPM hybrid drives...reliable for many years so far. Makes some scratching noises if the drive is busy while experiencing angle changes, like tilting the drive, but that is common on all their drives. but I thought the FireCuda's were 7200RPM for laptops again?

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