Apple just unveiled an interesting new option this week for the new iMacs and Mac Minis called “Fusion Drive.” Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Philip Schiller described it as a “combination of storage and software.” It provides a 128GB SSD and 1TB or 3TB HDD melded into a single volume for faster read-and-writes and better performance.
Apple explained the drive stores core OS X apps on SSD, while documents and other media are stored on HDD. The result is enhanced performance, as Apple highlighted in slides by showing faster Aperture photo imports.
The 4GB write buffer is the only cache-like component to Apple’s Fusion Drive. Everything else works as an OS-directed pinning algorithm instead of an SSD cache. In other words, Mountain Lion will physically move frequently used files, data and entire applications to the 128GB of NAND Flash storage and move less frequently used items to the hard disk. The moves aren’t committed until the copy is complete, so if your CPU loses power, the data won’t be lost. After the copy is complete, the original is deleted and free space recovered.
There are similar options produced by Seagate, but this is the first time Apple will offer this type of hybrid drive directly to its customers. It is a nice feature to offer to its customers. Will it sway you one way or another in your decision on whether or not to purchase an iMac or Mac Mini?