After being limited to the 27-inch iMac, Apple is now offering its Fusion Drive to the 2.7 GHz 21.5-inch iMac model. Apple adds the Fusion Drive as a $250 upgrade to the entry-level 21-inch iMac as posted on the company’s online store.
Prior to this, the hardware that works with the Fusion Drive is the more expensive 2.9 GHz 21.5-inch iMac model. It was also discovered users can create an unofficial Fusion Drive and gain support from Mountain Lion.
Inside Apple’s Fusion Drive
Introduced alongside the redesigned iMac in October 2011, Apple’s Fusion Drive is a hybrid of hardware and software solution. It promises the performance of a solid-state drive with the storage capacity of a hard drive. Apple aims to offer the best of worlds with its Fusion Drive, which offers the speed of an SSD while also enhancing its capacity by adding a slower but spacious 5400-rpm spinning hard drive.
Fusion Drive’s software technology is built into OS X Mountain Lion and adds 128 GB SSD. It also comes in with either 1 TB or 3 TB HDD to form a single addressable volume. The storage solution’s flash memory permanently stores the operating system itself and its integral applications. Meanwhile, other files are stored on the slower-spinning drive.
Moreover, the system monitors a user’s operating and swaps accessed files, folders or programs frequently. The hybrid drive calculates which apps are used more often and place those assets on the faster SSD. Less frequently accessed files or applications, on the other hand, are stored on the HDD.
Core applications and the operating system are stored permanently and accessible from the flash memory. The remaining space, on the other hand, is used for the frequently accessed files and applications. File transfer dynamically takes place in the background, making the system seamless and unobtrusive to the user.
Apple’s Head of Marketing Phil Schiller even said that the Fusion Drive performs an Aperture photo import 3.5 times faster, a file copy of a 4 GB folder 3.5 times faster, as well as a system boot 1.7 times faster.
Based on initial tests, the hybrid drive cut startup time in half, while its read-and-write speeds saw a significant increase. Conducted by Techfast Lunch & Dinner, their test revealed that the Fusion Drive can achieve write speeds of over 300 MB per second. It even exceeds 400 MB per second.