With the introduction of a slew of new products, one element that may get lost in the shuffle is Apple’s new Fusion Drive. Hard drive manufacturer Seagate has popularized the notion of a solid-state and spinning hard disc hybrid drives, however they have failed to take off in the larger consumer market.
Typically used in low-cost Ultrabooks, these drives make use of solid state storage technology, very similar to USB thumb drives to cache important pieces of software. Often used for Operating System installation, these SSD’s can offer vastly improved performance while consuming less power. Typical end-user consumers have had a hard time adopting hybrid drives because they can be more difficult to partition if their PC doesn’t come with one from the factory. This is where Apple steps in.
Apple has apparently developed technology that allows programs and system files that are used more frequently to be automatically moved to the SSD portion of the hard drive. Fusion Drives will combine a 128GB SSD with a 1 or 3 TB spinning hard drive. By completely eliminating the user’s need to do anything other than use his or her computer, Apple may have found a way to get these hybrid drives into the mass market. From the users perspective, they will notice dramatically improved system performance while maintaining the ability to store terabytes worth of data on their computer.
Pricing and specific storage combinations aren’t clear for the new iMac, however Apple has already given users of it’s website the ability to configure the new Mac Mini’s with the Fusion Drive. The Fusion Drive option is only available on the more expensive $799 Mac Mini, which adds $250 to the overall price and limits the typical spinning drive portion to 1TB. Reports indicate that the iMac will be available with either a 1 or 3TB option, however pricing has yet to be disclosed.