When I first wrote about SSD technology on this blog about 2 years ago, I mentioned that we could expect to see hybrid SSD/HDD implementations in notebooks where you could use fast SSD flash memory for commonly accessed files and spinning drives for bulk storage. With our just announced Lenovo IdeaPad Y460 and Y560 notebooks, our engineers are finally making this hybrid storage a reality. I am experimenting with hybrid storage right now on a ThinkStation S20. I have a 256GB SSD as my boot disk (c:\). I have installed Win7 plus all of my programs here. As my D:\, I have attached a 300GB 10,000 rpm Western Digital Velociraptor in which I put my swap file, documents, pictures, and the like. Then I have yet a third 750GB 7200 rpm disk for everything else. I suspect that hybrid storage has not been implemented yet by the industry for multiple reasons. One, though falling in price, flash memory continues to be extremely expensive. Second, flash drives still are not big enough. Given my choice I would have a single 2TB flash disk that would hold everything. Since that doesn’t exist, I am forced to make conscious decisions on a regular basis. Do I install a program/file to my fast but relatively small SSD, or do I put it on one of my spinning drives instead? Which one? As a relatively sophisticated user, I am trading off hassle for speed. These decisions are easy for me, but the average user has no idea about C:\ vs. D:\ or spinning vs. SSD. They might be aware that their SSD is faster, but don’t have the slightest clue about how to manage a dual drive setup. They just want their PC to work. Enter Lenovo’s RapidDrive technology. When you buy a Lenovo Y560 or Y460, you will have the option to configure it with RapidDrive. Your machine will have your standard hard disk drive plus a 32GB or 64GB SSD installed in the internal PCI-E slot. The breakthrough is not combining the two in one system. Anyone can do that. The breakthrough is using a Lenovo patent-pending technology that connects both the SSD and HDD simultaneously as one big, contiguous drive. Unlike my setup above, this storage is dynamically pooled and managed. The end user does not need to do anything. The system manages the SSD depending on usage. Programs, documents, and other files are dynamically moved on and off of the SSD so that you can always get the fastest speed possible. This also means that the system will not return an error if the SSD is already at full capacity. The program/file will automatically be installed on the HDD and moved to the SSD later in the background if the algorithm determines that is optimal. This is not Intel TurboMemory. TurboMemory required more user intervention to manage on a regular basis. Our technology not only offers more capacity, but is more automatic. Here is a brief video demonstrating the technology in action. Pictured are two Y560 systems. The one of the left has RapidDrive. The one on the right has just a standard HDD. Otherwise, both are identically configured. A simple script shows loading a series of programs and how much extra speed the RapidDrive can provide. The RapidDrive finishes in about 13 seconds. The non-RapidDrive system takes almost 30 seconds.