“No one heard a peep in the last few months about Apple’s new Fusion Drive, a combination solid state and platter based hard drive that ‘fuses’ the best aspects of flash and traditional hard drive storage,” John Brownlee reports for Cult of Mac.

“Those aspects? Solid state drives (or SSDs) over much faster reading and write speed, as well as “instant-on” boot up from sleep or power down. This leads to huge performance boosts all across the Mac. Traditional hard drives, however, have a couple key advantages: they are both cheaper and have more capacity, allowing you to easily store massive media libraries,” Brownlee reports. “So what’s the point of the Fusion Drive? Simple. It’s the best of both worlds: the speed and instant-on of an SSD, with all of the storage space of an HDD. But how does it work?””

Lee Hutchinson explains for Ars Technica, “Apple’s Fusion Drive does not appear to function like an SSD-backed disk cache, but rather seems more like a file-level implementation of a feature that has existed for some time in big enterprise disk arrays: automatic tiering.”

“Most big disk arrays have different types of storage—some slow spinning disk, some faster spinning disk, and some solid state storage—and some have the ability to monitor what data is being accessed the most and can automatically move that data to a faster tier of disk as needed. These features typically operate at the block level, below the files, and can be done on large or small chunks of data, depending on what’s hot and what’s not,” Hutchinson writes. “Auto-tiering also includes the ability to take data that is no longer in demand, or no longer “hot” and demote it down off of fast disk and onto slower stuff. In this way, a file that doesn’t get accessed very often might be stored on slow SATA disks, but if a hundred people need to open it repeatedly over a short period of time, it will get pulled up and kept on SSD until it’s not needed anymore.”

Read more in the full article here.

Apple’s new Fusion Drive “fulfills a 2011 patent application,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple. “On September 29, 2011 we posted a report titled ‘Apple is working a new Hybrid Drive System of their Own,’ and today Apple’s ‘887 patent application was fulfilled with the introduction of the Fusion Drive.”

“Fusion Drive automatically and intelligently manages your data so that frequently used apps, documents, photos, and other files stay on the faster flash storage, while infrequently used items move to the hard drive,” Purcher reports. “You’ll enjoy shorter boot times, and as the system learns how you work, you’ll experience faster application launches and quicker file access.”

Read more in the full article here.