Apple’s new Fusion Drive technology also works on older Macs

“One of the interesting additions to Apple’s iMac and Mac mini lines announced last week is Fusion Drive, a hybrid storage system that combines a 128 GB solid-state drive (SSD) with a 1 TB or 3 TB traditional hard drive into a single volume to offer the best of both worlds in terms of performance and storage space,” Eric Slivka reports for MacRumors. “Apple’s software automatically manages the combined volume, placing the core system and other frequently used applications and files on the solid-state drive for faster access while keeping lower-priority applications and data on the traditional hard drive.”

Slivka reports, “Mac developer Patrick Stein has been toying with his own Mac Pro setup and has managed to build his own Fusion Drive using command line tools. Stein configured an internal solid-state drive and a USB-attached traditional hard drive on his system and was able to combine them into a single logical volume as used for Fusion Drive.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
Apple’s new patented Fusion Drive is more advanced than you might think – October 24, 2012


  1. If “Mac developer Patrick Stein” has a Mac Pro (which can have four internal drives), why is he using an external USB drive as the hard drive? 🙂

    But it’s good to know that the feature is SO flexible that it CAN be used with a USB drive. I’ll bet Apple rolls it out for general (supported) use by existing customers with the next major release of Mac OS X. But they will probably limit “official” usage to INTERNAL drives.

      1. OK, as a test, that makes sense…

        In the real world, this should not be done with an external drive, because an external drive is more likely to be disconnected or powered off accidentally, while the Mac is running. With internal drives, the drive is always connected and powered on while the Mac is running.

          1. Who said you had to trust my opinion? People with common sense will see my comment as being obvious.

            And I was one of the first commenters here (on earlier article) who speculated that Fusion Drive was in fact two separate drives merged into one logical volume using software, NOT a single “hybrid drive” (the most common and wrong assumption).

    1. No they won’t. Apple is in the business of selling hardware. If they roll out a feature like this to older machines, then why would you buy new hardware from them. Same thing could be argued about Siri on the iPad 2 and iPhone 4. It never happened and it never will, even thou people have gotten it to work with these models.

      1. That is a bogus argument. If what you said was true, then Apple would never release major OS upgrades that add major new features, that work on older hardware. It would be, the version of Mac OS X that comes with your Mac (or iPhone or iPad) is the version it has for its lifetime (except for minor bug fix updates). And as we all know, that’s the opposite of what Apple does.

        My old 2006 iMac came with Tiger and has been able to run all versions of Mac OS X up to Lion (and only recently became NOT supported for Mountain Lion). Gee, that sure was a good way to force me to upgrade my hardware all these years.

  2. Dam, I thought Apple was going to sell them separatly for upgardes.
    Then I remembered that they wont even do upgrades to Hard Drives after sale. My iMac’s 1TB HD is always full and I got the model just before Thunderbolt 🙁

    1. My 2007 iMac shipped with a 500GB drive. A couple of years ago I swapped it for a 2TB HDD and it is still working fine. I decided to go with a lower RPM “green” drive rather than a 7200 RPM model because they produce less heat. My iMac runs cooler and the fans run slower, and it does not appear to have reduced performance at all.

      Swapping the HDD in my iMac was not the easiest thing that I have ever done, but it was not terribly difficult. I found good directions online. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that it is possible.

  3. For what it’s worth, this technology is nothing new as Seagate released the Momentus XT Hybrid product line over a year ago. Apple just upped the capacity and maybe optimized the file management logic. The one thing the Seagate has going for it is that it’s not much more expensive than a standard HDD.

    1. It’s NOT a hybrid drive. The SSD and hard drive storage are separate devices, and the “file management logic” is an order of magnitude more sophisticated, and tailored specifically for how Mac OS X works. Because of how it works, it can be flexibly implemented across a range of Macs, even older Macs.

    2. Completely different tech.. The Momentus XT tops at 8GB of flash and Seagate will struggle to do more.

      It’s too complex to juggle it at the level drives sit in the chain. Drives know nothing about files or even filesystems, all they see are millions of data blocks and instructions to read or write to those blocks. They also don’t have super fast processors at their disposal like the OS does, drives use low power and much cheaper micro controllers.

    3. I think ocz makes a hybrid drive with a !28 gig SSD portion.

      this is happening at the driver level in the OS. MS did something similar with vista which was capable of placing the OS boot files on an SSD partition to speed up boot time. Of course it was buggy coming from MS.

      This is the logical progression of that tech and I’m sure the Apple solution is much less error prone!

      1. This is done in the OS and takes advantage of Apple’s Core Storage technology, which is rock solid. I think we’ll see more to come because of it. FileVault 2 makes good use of it, for instance, and I’ve never heard of a single problem (unlike the original FileVault).

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