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Richard Kuegle, an analyst at brokerage Needham, also notes that Intel's strict specification of near instant boot times for Ultrabooks makes HDDs obsolete, while SSD solutions remain too expensive for most consumers.
Now, both Seagate and rival HDD maker Western Digital are banking on hybrids to get a leg up in a crowded SSD market, where they compete with more than 100 other firms.
IDC expects the storage drive market to be worth about $57 billion by 2016, about $12 billion more than this year. It expects hybrids to be the standard memory in at least 30 percent of notebooks in four years.
Apple's 'Fusion Drive' for iMacs a breakthrough for hybrid drives
Analysts said that while hybrid drives would let HDD makers make up some ground lost to SSDs, it was too soon to make meaningful financial projections for Seagate and Western Digital, which control 90 percent of the hard drive market.
"An all SSD solution for an Ultrabooks is very viable but also very expensive," Western Digital President Steve Milligan said in an interview.
To be sure, Apple's solution is not strictly speaking a hybrid drive. It is software based, relying on a Lacoste Outfit Women
Hybrid drives a cross between a standard HDD and a flash chip have been slow to take off because until now only Seagate Technology was offering them. PC makers normally shy away from sourcing from a single supplier.
"The problem is, (SSDs are) still not cheap enough and hard drives on the other hand are still getting cheaper every day," said Ryan Chien, an Lacoste Long Sleeve Polo
For many, the pitch was probably lost amid the buzz accompanying the launch of the new iPad mini the same day. But Apple's adoption of a technology that has been around for years, without really catching on, looks likely to finally bring "hybrid" drives into the mainstream.
performance, while data such as music, movies and other files are stored on the workhorse HDD.
They also cost more than traditional hard drives, and have been seen as a transitional technology as the market waited for SSD prices to drop.
Seagate has shipped only about 1.5 million hybrid drives, branded Momentus XTs, since launching them about four years ago.
Demand for storage is soaring. About 650 terabytes of storage will be sold this year alone, according to Gartner enough to store every single piece of data on the World Wide Web twice over. SSD shipments have almost tripled this year, while HDD shipments have grown less than 5 percent.
Hybrids would not make sense if SSD costs fell into line with HDD costs, said Mark Geenen of Trendfocus, a hard drive consultancy. "However, we don't see that happening over the next five years," he said.
"It is important to note that Apple is validating the value of hybrid technologies," Western Digital's Milligan said.
"We've certainly been getting more calls from OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) since Apple's announcement," Scott Horn, Seagate's vice president of marketing, told Reuters.
analyst at research firm IHS iSuppli.
huge chunk of flash memory linked to a standard HDD. Still, the underlying rationale puts it in the same category as a hybrid.
A hard drive can be as much as 10 times slower than flash memory but it is also significantly cheaper.
"Hybrid drives will be the future of mass market cheap storage," said John Rydning, an analyst at technology research firm IDC. "Although so far we haven't seen much traction, I see all the pieces falling into place now that even Apple is selling these."
About 500 million hard drives and less than 50 million solid state drives are sold every year.
When Apple (AAPL) marketing head Phil Schiller launched the new iMac in October he enthused about its "Fusion Drive," a storage option combining the cost and capacity benefits of hard drives with the speed of flash memory.
Needham's Kuegle is even more bullish, estimating that almost all hard drives will have a flash component by the end of next year.
"Hybrid as a category is going to became the de facto standard for disk drives as we go out one or two years," he said. "There's this great need to have higher throughput from disk drives but at the same time still keeping the capacity and the cost down."
Ultrabooks, which have chips supplied by Santa Clara chipmaker Intel (INTC), have been criticized for being too Fred Perry Green Tartan Shirt expensive, and manufacturers have shipped fewer than expected.
Western Digital, which estimates current demand for hybrids at 1.5 million to 2 million a year, will launch its own hybrids early in the new year and expects the market to grow quickly.
Technology research consultancy Gartner expects the hybrid drive market to grow to more than 100 million units in 2016 from its estimate of 1.8 million in 2011.
Ultrabooks thinner, faster laptops positioned to rival tablets present the best opportunity to launch hybrid drives into the mass market, analysts say, and Ultrabooks running on hybrid drives are expected to be a big theme at next month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The outlook has also suddenly brightened for makers of hard disk drives, or HDDs, whose share of the $45 billion storage drive market is being eroded by makers of more modern solid state drives, or SSDs, that are faster, more reliable but also pricier.
The flash component in a hybrid can be used to run a computer's operating system, key applications and parts of files that need speedier Lacoste Yellow Polo Shirt
"In order to get that instant on element, you have to have NAND (flash memory) of some kind, so the answer was in front of (manufacturers) all along, and that is hybrid drives," he said.
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