Introducing Apple’s Fusion Drive

Posted on October 24, 2012 by Nikhil P Naik

The much-awaited iPad mini wasn’t the only star attraction of the just-concluded Apple convention. Say hello to Fusion Drive – an innovative storage mechanism that the world’s most valuable company has just launched for the latest iMacs and Mac minis. So what is this new-fangled creation all about? And will it be a sustainable and profitable proposition? Let’s delve straight into the specifics:

What it is?

Fusion Drive is a one-of-a-kind hybrid drive that incorporates the best of solid state drive and hard disk drive technologies. The novelty of the device stems from its capability to wholly integrate with the embedded operating system – in this case Apple’s patented OS X. The main features of Fusion Drive are as under:

Apple Fusion Drive

1. The Fusion Drive has been designed as a solitary-volume device. This connotes that the operating system intelligently fuses the entrenched solid state and hard disk drives to offer a single hybrid drive to the user.

2. The solid state drive component houses 128 GB of internal flash memory (classified as “Not And” or NAND storage) whereas the hard disk drive component can accommodate either 1 TB or 3 TB. Users may opt for any combination of these drives. The resultant volume capacity will, at all times, be the total of the memories. For example if a user decides to collate a 1-terabyte hard disk drive with 128-gigabyte solid state drive, the upshot would be a 1.128-gigabyte Fusion Drive.

3. The merging of solid state and hard disk functionalities is achieved largely due to the unique auto-tiering knowhow. Auto-tiering procedures are different from those relating to Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) and caching, in spite of conspicuous similarities. The solid state drive component houses the central operating system and the various applications while the hard disk drive component stores the remaining framework. As device usage increases, the operating system intuitively keeps a track of the most accessed applications and files along with time and frequency data. These commonly used applications are then automatically transferred to the solid state drive component (if needed) without, remarkably, the Fusion Drive losing its solitary-volume status.

4. The Fusion Drive technology equips the solid state drive component with a drive-writing buffer of 4 GB. As usage intensifies, all further drive writes are lodged in this particular buffer. As the 4 GB threshold is reached, the drive writes are cleverly transferred to the hard disk drive component thereby increasing the nimbleness and resilience of the entire system. Notably these transfers occur seamlessly, in a latent manner, and can even withstand system crashes and other such interruptions.

5. The enviable speed of Fusion Drive was specially trumpeted by Apple’s Phil Schiller, who proclaimed that even power-hungry jobs could be easily managed by this revolutionary storage innovation. For example it was claimed that Fusion drive could execute a photo import (aperture) 3.5 times swifter than a regular 1TB (7200 RPM) hard disk drive. Further, Fusion Drive could also copy a file belonging to a 4-gigabyte folder 3.5 times speedier and boot the system 1.7 times swifter than the hard disk drive.

Points to Note

1. Fusion Drive would create backup copies periodically using Time Machine. In case of individual drive failures, however, users would require a complete restoration. Alternatively they could replace the faulty drive with substitute drives and tweak Fusion Drive to get their systems running again.

2. The OS X operating system, as of now, provides no user interface to control Fusion drive settings.


Fusion Drive is clearly a boon for intensive users and will become even more popular as Apple continues to develop advanced technologies.

About the Author: This is a guest post by Sofia Fern. She is a guest writer from , a site that offers information about digital cable and high speed internet.

About Nikhil P Naik

Nikhil Naik has a Master's Degree in Information Systems, and is currently working as a Software Engineer at Microsoft. He also loves playing cricket, listening to music, and traveling. Twitter Handle - @buzz_nikhil.

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