Microsoft has revealed a hybrid hard disk that includes flash memory to reduce laptop power consumption by a claimed 10 per cent. The power saving is achieved because the flash memory chip reduces the need for the disk to spin.
Jack Creasey, senior programme manager for Microsoft's Windows Hardware Innovation Group, told vnunet.com that the technology is aimed at laptops running Longhorn, Microsoft's upcoming version of Windows.
"The real secret is to limit the number of reads on the disk," Creasey said at WinHEC in Seattle.
The technology also promises to reduce the number of hard drive failures in laptop computers. A hard disk in a laptop typically lasts just half as long as one in a desktop system, according to Microsoft.
Instead of constantly spinning the hard drive to store and retrieve data, the flash memory can be used as a temporary storage area. The prototype that Microsoft unveiled at WinHEC used 128MB of flash memory.
The memory is also used to accelerate the wake up time for a system once it has gone into sleep mode. By storing information on the chip, a laptop can resume operation within 10 seconds as opposed to the current 15-20 seconds.
The disk will be manufactured initially by Samsung, Hitachi and Seagate, and other manufacturers will be announced later.
Microsoft owns the licence for the technology, although Creasey explained that hard disk manufacturers can use the technology free of charge provided they apply it to a Windows system.
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