In addition to announcing the brand new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro and refreshing both their iMac and Mac mini models during the October 23rd media event, Apple also revealed a new option for their desktop computers: the Fusion Drive. While Phil Schiller only briefly explained the technology behind Apple’s fusion drive, more information can be found on their site and they recently published a knowledge base article with details on the drive.
Essentially, the Fusion Drive is a combination of two different types of storage – 128GB of Flash memory and either a 1TB or 3TB HDD – that’s fused into a single volume through OS X Mountain Lion. While other companies have products that combine Flash memory and an HDD, nothing quite compares to Apple’s Fusion Drive. Instead of storing files that are in use as cache on the Flash memory, the Fusion Drive intelligently copies files from the HDD to the Flash memory, and visa versa, in the background based on which items are used or accessed the most. Moreover, all copying and duplicating that takes place utilizes the Flash memory and is then copied to the HDD at a later time depending on various factors.
However, despite the Fusion Drive’s perfect balance between performance and capacity, it has its limitations. For example, only a single partition can be created on the HDD and Apple has acknowledged that some customers might experience difficulties when restoring from a Time Machine backup. Another known issue, for now at least, is the 3TB configuration’s incompatibility with Boot Camp Assistant, but hopefully Apple will address this issue in a future update.
Stay tuned for complete coverage on Apple’s 2012 iMac models and their new Fusion Drive technology.