Apple's Fusion Drive slashes boot times, boosts read/write speeds

Apple's Fusion Drive brings Mac users the best of both worlds -- terabyte storage capacities with the performance of a solid state drive.

Apple is renowned for creating devices that look good and feel good in the hand, but the company also likes to innovate and do things that you can't directly see. One new technology for the Mac that Apple unveiled last month was Fusion Drive , a hybrid that combines a regular hard disk drive and a solid state drive to offer the best of both worlds -- high capacity and fast storage in a single, easy-to-use package.

Combining hard drives and flash storage is nothing new, it's what a hybrid drive is. What's interesting about Fusion Drive is the software intelligence that makes the hard disk drive and solid state drive appear to the user like one drive, and OS X silently moves frequently accessed files from the slower hard disk to the faster solid state drive in order to boost performance.

But how much of a performance boost does it offer? According to testing done by Techfast Lunch&Dinner, the performance boosts offered aren’t just measurable, they are easily noticeable.

The tests pit a 2012 Mac mini with Fusion Drive -- consisting of a 256GB solid state drive, and a 1TB 5400 RPM hard drive -- against a 2012 Mac mini featuring a standard 5400 RPM drive.

Starting with the boot up, the tests found the Fusion Drive Mac mini booted up in a shade over 15 seconds, while the 2012 Mac mini with the hard drive took 34 seconds.

Like I said, this is a noticeable improvement. Very noticeable.

Speed tests showed that the Fusion Drive was capable of delivering write speeds in excess of 300 megabytes per second, and write speeds breaking the 400 megabytes per second barrier. In comparison, the Mac mini containing the 5400 RPM hard drive couldn't even hit 100 megabytes per second in either the tests.

While solid state drives are fast, they have been slow to be adopted because the cost per GB is much higher than that of a regular hard drive. Housing both types of drives in a single system, and adding secret sauce software that intelligently combines the two drives into a single partition, brings the best of both worlds to Mac users.

This technology will no doubt help to raise awareness for the benefits of solid state drives, and help boost adoption, both at home and in the workplace.

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Image source: Apple.