Fusion drive, a storage technology developed by Apple and announced along with the launch of new iMac & Mac Mini on 23rd October, 2012 .
Making it easy for you to understand, It just work like a combination of the hard drive & cache memory in traditional computer systems where hard drive is used to store the data permanently and a cache memory is used to store & serve the recent or most frequently accessed data. Similarly, a Fusion drive is a combined implementation of a hard drive with another faster flash drive, typically an SSD.
How fusion drive actually works?
Though, there are two drives connected (Mac HD & SSD) but will be presented to you as a single logical drive with combined storage capacity in your new Mac Mini or iMac. Now, it comes to the actual working of the fusion drive, when configured, the operating system automatically send/store the frequently accessed applications, documents, files, photos & other data in the faster flash drive and rest of the data which is less referenced will remain stored in the main Hard drive.
Now, whenever a file or application is accessed from the HDD, it gets stored in the SSD for a faster access when requested next time. An interesting thing to note down here is that, the data stored in SSD if not accessed for a while will be moved back to the HDD to make a room for other applications/data.
How would I be benefited if I buy a Mac Mini or iMac configured with fusion drive?
Fusion drive is developed solely fo increasing the read/write speed or ultimately the performance of your latest Mac Mini or iMac. So, that's the only but the most important factor your should choose a fusion drive.
Still confused? Let me tell exactly how much you will be benefited from a fusion drive? Have a look at the below image indicating the increase in performance when you get fusion drive pre-configured.
As you can see from the above image, the photo import speed in Apple Aperture, will be increased by 3.5 times, copying speed shall be fasten by 3.5 times and the system boot speed will be increased by 1.7 times provided you are using a 1TB hard drive of at least 7200-RPM.
So, overall fusion system is like a caching solution that only increases the speed of read/write operations.
Adding more about it, consider the below mentioned points before making a decision of buying a Mac Mini or iMac pre-configured with fusion drive
- If you wish to use an external drive as a part of fusion drive, it's not possible, at least till yet.
- You can not partition the flash storage in the fusion drive.
- If you create a hard drive partition on fusion drive, it will be treated like a separate volume that is physically located on the hard drive.
- The fusion drive support is limited to Mac OS X 10.8.2 if you are attempting to mount it in target disk mode.
- The third party disk utilities may not work properly or at all on fusion drive.
- The earlier versions of Mac disk utility will not work with the fuson drive as the disk utility comes with it is completely unique.
Though, you can still create a Windows partition on fusion drive using bootcamp to play with Microsoft Windows.
Coming to the price of Mac Mini with fusion drive, you will need to pay at least $450 more if you are planning to buy $599 version, reason, the fusion drive option is only available in the latest Mac mini priced $799, in short, $250 extra for alone fusion drive in addition the the latest Mac mini.
And, the compatible iMac will be available somewhere in November itself but you can expect almost ($250) the same increased price for fusion dive pre-configured.
So, choice is yours.....