When Tim Cook and his executive team introduced the new iMac as part of their most recent media event, it was the redesigned form factor and the extremely thin profile that grabbed most of the attention. Granted, the new aesthetics of the soon-to-be released iMac is quite a staggering aesthetic transformation from the currently available model, but the more technical minded consumer chose to focus on the under-the-hood announcements that came out of the event, one of which was the new Fusion Drive.
Available as configurable option, the Fusion Drive can be fitted to either the new iMac or Apple’s revamped Mac mini machine and promises to bring speeds that are often associated with SSDs while having the disk space that is found on a more traditionally used hard disk. Without getting into the technical differences between the two, hard disks usually offer large storage capacities, are cheap to purchase but are also slow. The flip side is; an SSD that offers blazing fast boot and load speeds, but are much more expensive and available with reduced storage capacities. The Fusion Drive promises a hybrid experience.
As part of their official blurb on the drive, Apple claims that the Fusion Drive will run three and a half times faster than a traditional drive for various tasks, hopefully bringing to the table performance similar to that of a machine with SSD installed. The video from TLD puts two 2012 Mac mini machines head-to-head, one that has a Fusion Drive embedded and the other with a more a traditional 5,400 RPM hard disk. The initial boot test is actually quite staggering with the Fusion Drive equipped machine delivering on the performance promise with a fifteen second boot-up from cold. The Mac mini with the 5,400 RPM HD eventually came to life after thirty-four seconds.
The next obvious test would be to get a gauge of the individual disc speeds with each installation. The test shows that the Fusion Drive offers disc read and write speeds of over 400 and 300Mbps respectively. That performance totally over-shadows the traditional hard disk installation which didn’t surpass 100Mbps in either test. One of the areas which Apple actually stated the Fusion Drive would be notably quicker is in copying files, and it seems that they weren’t spinning yarn. Copying a 4GB file was handled in no time with the new drive, but took an infuriating length of time on the standard drive machine.
Performance will obviously differ depending on the tasks and the individual state of each machine, but this video certainly suggests that Apple weren’t hiding behind fancy product names with the introduction of the Fusion Drive and it should definitely deliver notable improvements to users.