Samsung has formally announced the MH80 - the first hybrid hard drive to hit the market.

Hybrid drives augment standard disk storage with a small amount of Samsung OneNAND Flash memory. This enables fast booting and resume from sleep mode, as the flash memory is designed to work with Microsoft's ReadyDrive software, included within Vista.

The 2.5-inch laptop drive has a main capacity of either 80GB, 120GB or 160GB with an added Flash capacity of 128MB or 256MB, and is designed to cut boot times by up to 50 per cent.

The drive also has power advantages; it's designed to consume 70-90% less power than a traditional hard drive. Samsung claims this can extend the battery life by 30 minutes before it needs recharging, though obviously this is laptop-dependent.

"As a leader in both hard drive and flash memory technologies, Samsung brings to market a unique hybrid hard drive that is sure to revolutionise the notebook computing experience," states Tae Jik Lee from Samsung's Storage Division.

"The MH80 hybrid hard drive provides the ideal solution for two major issues that notebook PC users continually face: boot and resume performance and extended battery life," he continues.

The new drive has already been made available to system builders and will be available for retail purchase over the coming days.