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No Cheap Replacement For Hard Disks Before 2020

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  • Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chuckymonkey (1059244) <(charles.d.burton) (at) (gmail.com)> on Saturday October 24, 2009 @04:55PM (#29859561) Journal
    So these people can predict the future now?! Really, you never know what is going to happen for sure. Look at current HDD tech, IBM made the GMR breakthrough and BAM! Huge storage capacity in drives. What makes people think that there cannot be another such discovery with solid state or some other yet unknown tech?
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:02PM (#29859641)

      Probably because manufacturing techniques often take at least 10 years to become mainstream. Even if someone invents something faster, smaller and more reliable than magnetic storage... you still have to conceive of a way to produce it in mass quantities to drive the price below that of established spinning disks.

      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by timeOday (582209) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:35PM (#29859939)

        you still have to conceive of a way to produce it in mass quantities to drive the price below that of established spinning disks.

        Nope! Roast beef costs more than bologna, yet people chose to buy it every day. SSD drives don't need to be cheaper because they are better - silent, far less prone to shock damage, and ohhh so much faster. Morever, HDD's, though cheaper per megabyte for huge-sized drives, will be more expensive for the smaller sizes people actually need. You can get a memory stick for, what, $10? HDD's never touch that because of their complexity. Well before 2020 a 250 GB SSD will be $20, and will have ample capacity for most users, and will be cheaper than any HDD. Granted, a 50 TB HDD will still be cheaper than a 50 TB SDD, but most people won't care. About that time, HDDs will become specialty products, further crippling any remaining cost advantage.

        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:43PM (#29859997)

          Well before 2020 a 250 GB SSD will be $20, and will have ample capacity for most users, and will be cheaper than any HDD.

          Rather like the average user will ever need more than 640k of RAM.

          By 2020, 250GB will be as much of a joke for the average user as a 250MB drive would be today; 250GB will probably be just about big enough to hold one super-extra-high-definition video file.

          • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:56PM (#29860071) Homepage Journal

            250GB will be as much of a joke for the average user as a 250MB drive would be today

            Nintendo DSi has the equivalent of a 256 MB microSD soldered onto the motherboard. It's enough to hold a few apps from the DSi Shop. If it were a joke, why would Nintendo have used it?

            250GB will probably be just about big enough to hold one super-extra-high-definition video file.

            For one thing, the eye has a resolution limit, so why would people need more than, say, 2560x1440 (quad 720p) in home electronics? For another, are you talking about the consumer's use (which would be streaming rather than storage if the movie industry has its way) or the movie producer's use?

            • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

              by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @06:11PM (#29860193)

              Nintendo DSi has the equivalent of a 256 MB microSD soldered onto the motherboard. It's enough to hold a few apps from the DSi Shop. If it were a joke, why would Nintendo have used it?

              And that has any relevance to the general computer market because?

              At the rate we're going, by 2020 Windows will probably need 500GB for a base install and the average PC game will be 1TB.

              For one thing, the eye has a resolution limit, so why would people need more than, say, 2560x1440 (quad 720p) in home electronics?

              In the near future you'll be able to buy a $3000 camcorder that can shoot more than 2560x1440 and burn through a gigabyte every 30 seconds or so; by 2020 you'll probably be able to shoot IMAX resolution on a $3k camcorder.

              Honestly, every time I've seen someone say 'the average user will never need more than this', they've looked incredibly foolish only a few years later.

              • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

                by epine (68316) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @06:47PM (#29860453)

                At the rate we're going, by 2020 Windows will probably need 500GB for a base install

                Only if you install the Federation Font Pack and the holographic tridi layout engine. And that's supposing the SETI program makes an immediate break-through, like tomorrow, and Perl 7 ships on time.

                We've already passed the visual resolution where porn becomes gynaecology. Even lust has resolution limits.

                Or maybe Google decides it saves bandwidth to send out the entire public Internet encoded as a single quantum particle, but for some reason people don't disable their Mozilla page cache.

                Extrapolation is a valid exercise, but works better accompanied by graphs and data points rather than historical fat jokes. The last time Windows hung over its pants like a muffin top, I had a 6GB hard drive. Seagate hasn't sold anything smaller than a military surplus tent awning for years now. Hard to believe, times change.

            • by Mprx (82435)
              We can spend the bits on more than just resolution. Don't forget increases in frame rate (100fps+ needed for realistic fast motion), increases in color depth for more realistic dynamic range, and stereoscopy. And even if resolution on a conventional screen is bottlenecked by the human eye, dome screens need even higher resolution (or more practically, simulated dome screens using direct to eye projection). Also stereoscopy is an ugly hack that breaks when you change viewing position. A real 3D format would
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by im_thatoneguy (819432)

                Forget video. The real future is in photogammetry. Wander around a space with a small video camera for a few minutes and the computer infers all of the light, texture and surface properties of the entire room. Then if you want to take a picture the camera is saved as meta-data XYZ position,Quaternian rotation and FOV.

          • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by onefriedrice (1171917) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @11:53PM (#29862105)

            Well before 2020 a 250 GB SSD will be $20, and will have ample capacity for most users, and will be cheaper than any HDD.

            Rather like the average user will ever need more than 640k of RAM.

            By 2020, 250GB will be as much of a joke for the average user as a 250MB drive would be today; 250GB will probably be just about big enough to hold one super-extra-high-definition video file.

            Actually, I don't think this is true. We are at the point of diminishing returns in so many areas. For example, we used to be okay with black and white. Then 4-bit color. Then 8-bit color. Now we're at 24 or 32-bit color, and anything more than that would pretty much be wasted because our eyes can't see any more colors. The same thing is happening with audio and video. There comes a point when adding more data won't make a difference. So while you're correct in saying that people use more disk storage space than they did ten years ago or even one year ago, you can't really extrapolate and say for sure that we're going to be using more and more at the same rate of increase we've seen in the past.

            Another thing to consider is this growing fad of putting everything on the "cloud." Maybe it is just that, a fad, but perhaps one day people will store all their photos, music, videos, documents, or anything that would take a lot of disk space today entirely on this cloud thing and not keep copies of anything on their disks. I hope not, but you never know.

        • I suppose that explains the death of LTO to hard drives. Wait...

        • by tepples (727027)

          You can get a memory stick for, what, $10?

          I can get USB drives and often SD cards for that price, but Memory Stick's higher royalties and lower economies of scale mean I'm not going to find cheap media in a big box store unless it's on clearance.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by StoatBringer (552938)
          You severely underestimate future requirements for porn storage.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          You missed one very important point. Anyone so closely connected to Seagate as a former CTO of Seagate, is very likely to still have connections with that company and that part of the industry. Seagate and other hard drive companies don't want solid state to dominate, as their business is in conventional hard drives. Now we have solid state drives that means the chip manufacturers are now direct competitors with hard drive companies, which means a lot more competitors for hard drive companies.

          So any press r

      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kjella (173770) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:40PM (#29859975) Homepage

        Good thing we haven't been working with solid state storage in digital cameras for 10+ years then. Or the RAID controller technology which could make them kick-ass fast. Sorry, but SSDs aren't revolutionary in that sense, they're taking two rather mainstream technologies combined with the same process improvement you see in CPU/GPU/RAM and coming to whoop ass in all performance oriented markets. I have an SSD as my primary disk and I'd say it's the biggest revolution since dual cores. Almost no matter what I do, the machine remains very responsive under heavy IO load completely unlike hard disks.

      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Forge (2456) <kevinforge&gmail,com> on Saturday October 24, 2009 @09:26PM (#29861303) Homepage Journal
        There is another factor.

        Flash is faster and more energy efficient than spinning disks. This creates a demand for flash which reduces the incentive of manufacturers to drop the price per GB.

        Also try to understand the gap we are dealing with.
        Flash is around $1.87 per GB [pricewatch.com] while Hard drives are closer to 7c per GB.

        That's 26 times the price. Sure SSDs are getting cheaper every day but so are hard drives. I am sure they will get so close that the price gap becomes less important than all the other features which separate them. Some time after that, SSDs may even become cheaper, or both SSDs and hard drives will be supplanted by some other technology. It just won't happen right away.

        Is one more decade too pessimistic an estimate? Only time will tell. What I do know is that where SSD's advantages are more important the change has already started. You can buy a portable computer with only SSD storage today.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

      by cjfs (1253208) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:04PM (#29859661) Homepage Journal

      So these people can predict the future now?!

      Dude, the guy has his own Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org]. I'm pretty sure that grants him all sorts of powers.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Eil (82413) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @10:42PM (#29861721) Homepage Journal

      So these people can predict the future now?! Really, you never know what is going to happen for sure.

      If you want to see what's going to happen in regard to mechanical vs solid state hard disks, you don't need a crystal ball. Just look at the transition from CRT to LCD displays. It wasn't so long ago (seems like only a few years) that LCD monitors were horribly expensive and that fact (combined with their other drawbacks) made them an unattractive option for most people. I can recall many, many people right here on Slashdot saying that they would never give up their enormous, power-hungry, failure-prone CRT displays. Now, you can't even buy a CRT computer monitor because LCD quality caught up and surpassed CRTs for most purposes while price plummeted. The same will happen with mechanical disks and SSDs. Maybe it'll happen faster, maybe slower, but it will happen.

      Keep in mind also which company this "prediction" is coming from: Seagate lived a long and prosperous career engineering and manufacturing mechanical hard disks. They are a huge company whose entire operation is based around the concept of shipping hunks of metal with rotating platters inside. Since an SSD is just a bunch of memory chips duct-taped together, the memory companies (Transcend, Crucial, Corsair, Samsung, etc) were the first ones with SSDs on the market. The SSD thing likely hit Seagate by surprise and they can see that their run won't last long. It's not too late for them to start transitioning to manufacturing memory chips, but doing so would be brutal for many reasons. To start with, their decades of mechanical drive development experience, manufacturing facilities, engineers, trade secrets, R&D, etc are mostly about to be worthless. If they start selling this stuff off now while it's still fairly valuable, shareholders are going to do a huge "WTF?" and walk off. Second, the memory companies have a few years head start. Even if Seagate could enter the market and compete with them, the company would be leaving their position as a market leader to be a market newcomer, taking cues from everyone else. (Cue the sound of their last few shareholders stomping out.)

      Basically, unless Seagate can buy up a few of the leading memory companies making SSDs right now, they're screwed. Until (or unless) that happens, all they can do right now is appease their shareholders and put their executives up on stage to have them parrot the lie that their business is going to be viable for a good long time yet. Oh, and frivolously sue all the SSD manufacturers on broad patent infringement grounds.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jez9999 (618189)

        Now, you can't even buy a CRT computer monitor because LCD quality caught up and surpassed CRTs for most purposes while price plummeted.

        Although I do now have a couple of LCDs sitting here on my desk, I still take issue with the idea that they have surpassed CRTs, qualitywise... I doubt that will ever happen. I'm not sure what the phenomenon is called (it's not the same as ghosting, I think), but fast-moving objects don't work well on LCDs. They darken. Try playing emulated Sonic The Hedgehog on a CRT (i

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @04:56PM (#29859571) Homepage

    ...10 TB drives will be $10? More likely, 100TB drives will be $100 but you won't be able to get anything smaller. And they'll still crap out after a couple of years.

    • by dgatwood (11270) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:13PM (#29859735) Journal

      Pretty much. And the Seagate folks are forgetting the fixed costs in their estimates. There are a lot of fixed costs that go into manufacturing hard drives. That's the reason prices on HDs aren't dropping. Instead, capacity is increasing, giving the perception that storage is getting cheap. It isn't, though, unless you really expect to use all of that 1 TB capacity. The average computer user uses maybe 1-200 gigs. For them, the effective price of HD storage hasn't changed significantly in about five years.

      The price of SSDs is going down because most of their cost can still be reduced by economies of scale. At some point---probably within a couple of years---the price of a SSD will drop to the point where you can get a 256 GB drive for $100. At that point, it doesn't matter how big the hard drive vendors make their drive capacity; they're through. Most people will buy the much more reliable SSDs over the larger HDs once the price is about the same. At that point, the tables will turn, HD manufacturing will be relegated to power users, and hard drive prices will skyrocket. I'd give them five years. At most.

      Their statement reads like a press release by a company that sees the writing on the wall and is trying to keep stock prices propped up as long as they can. Just saying.

      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        In other words, the near future of home computer storage is looking bad as prices are going to significantly increase, with RAIDs of SSDs worth 200+ USD being the closest equivalent to a current 50 USD HDD. (500 GB HDD @ 50 USD vs. 2x256 GiB SSD + RAID controller @ 100 USD per SSD)
      • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:44PM (#29860003) Homepage

        At some point---probably within a couple of years---the price of a SSD will drop to the point where you can get a 256 GB drive for $100. At that point, it doesn't matter how big the hard drive vendors make their drive capacity; they're through.

        Agreed. It doesn't really matter if the price per TB for magnetic hard drives is much lower than for flash. The question will be, can I get enough storage in my computer without breaking the bank?

        Of course it depends on what amount is "enough". Honestly, on my laptop, I'm only using 25 GB. It's not that I'm trying to keep my storage requirements down. I have 160GB to work with, I just don't store anything except my OS, a few applications, and some documents. My desktop is in about the same state, except add about 20 GB of music. I think the next time I buy a new drive (which may still be a couple years off) it will be SSD.

        On the other hand, I would probably still want something very high capacity for archiving/backup, and hard drives might still be suitable there. Also, it's possible that I could be prodded into collecting movies and TV shows at 1080p like I have MP3s right now, in which cases I might want several hundred gigabytes of video storage. That might be another suitable use for hard drives. So maybe you'll see more of a tiered approach, with smaller/faster SSDs used internally to store the OS and apps, and then bigger external HD for video, backup, and archives.

        • by coryking (104614) *

          So maybe you'll see more of a tiered approach, with smaller/faster SSDs used internally to store the OS and apps, and then bigger external HD for video, backup, and archives.

          And some kind of filesystem that abstracts the whole mess so that you don't have to worry about which bits of data go on which disk. Your computer probably knows which files should be on the fast disk better then you do.

          That said, I would imagine it would be structure in a way that *everything* gets written to the spinning disk so you

          • by camperdave (969942) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @06:37PM (#29860397) Journal
            That said, I would imagine it would be structure in a way that *everything* gets written to the spinning disk so you can take said disk and plug it into another device.

            Why would I want my data on a flimsy, fragile mechanical device when I could keep it on a smaller, quieter, cooler, and far more robust electronic device?
            • by DigiShaman (671371) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @09:40PM (#29861365) Homepage

              It's been my professional experience that a nice percentage of drive failures happen because of the logic board going out, not mechanical. Of course, it could be the heat that's killing them.

              It's too soon to tell, but I'm a little skittish regarding SSD technology. It's getting better, but I'll wait a few more product generations before using them in SQL servers. With HDD crashes, at least the data can be professionally recovered to some degree. But what about SSDs? If the controller dies and/or a PSU fries every chip, I'm afraid all the data would be lost forever!

              Only a historical record of this new technology will determine my level of trust in the future.

              • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 24, 2009 @10:47PM (#29861759)

                It's getting better, but I'll wait a few more product generations before using them in SQL servers. With HDD crashes, at least the data can be professionally recovered to some degree. But what about SSDs? If the controller dies and/or a PSU fries every chip, I'm afraid all the data would be lost forever!

                The backup strategy that you are using on your database server is to have your data professionally recovered after a disk crash?

                • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                  by turing_m (1030530)

                  The backup strategy that you are using on your database server is to have your data professionally recovered after a disk crash?

                  For a bonus point, name the RDBMS he is using to store his data (5 letters). For an extra two bonus points, name the small aquatic mammalian mascot of said RDBMS.

      • by Hortensia Patel (101296) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:45PM (#29860009)

        unless you really expect to use all of that 1 TB capacity. The average computer user uses maybe 1-200 gigs. For them, the effective price of HD storage hasn't changed significantly in about five years.

        I dunno. I've recently noticed that the bigger disk capacities are being advertised as "nnn DVDs", in the same way that they used to be "nnn songs". It's not a given, but ripping DVD collections (and/or storing PVR recordings long-term) might well take off as a mass-market usage. I started ripping my own DVD library recently and believe me, it eats terabytes for breakfast.

        • But.. why would you do this? DVD's successor is *already* mainstream, and the successor's successor is already being hinted at.

          What you should be doing is trying to get as much for your second-hand DVDs as you can now, before their value drops even further, and just renting Blu-Rays on an as-needed basis. (no point in owning blu-rays, they're an interim medium to ease the adoption of HD and digital sets. I don't know what the longish term medium will be, but it won't be blu-ray.)

          • by Hortensia Patel (101296) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @07:00PM (#29860529)

            But.. why would you do this? DVD's successor is *already* mainstream, and the successor's successor is already being hinted at.

            Why do people rip their CD collections? Because they've got them, and they don't have any burning desire to buy them all over again, and dealing with huge numbers of physical discs is a royal PITA.

            DVD for me hits a "good enough" spot: cheap, reasonable quality, ineffectual DRM. Blu-Ray is higher quality, sure, but I gather the DRM is really obnoxious, and even if it weren't the filesizes are so ludicrous as to rule out all the possibilities that make digital formats a good thing. iTunes downloads and the like are OK for rentals, and I've used them for that, but I actually like owning movies, and that doesn't seem to be an option in the current marketplace. ("DRM that hasn't screwed you yet" is not "ownership".)

          • by jedidiah (1196) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @11:28PM (#29861991) Homepage

            There's a lot of stuff out there that will never be re-released in a
            "better format" because it wasn't created in one to begin with. There's
            50 years of TV and plenty of mediocre movies that don't benefit from
            Blu-Ray.

            The original Star Trek is a great example of this. Sure they had Film
            masters but then they started monkeying around with the original material
            and kind of ruined the whole point of the entire enterprise.

            Some of us already have MP3 collections that are more than 10 years old.

            The idea of decade old MKV collections should seem so odd.

      • by coryking (104614) *

        The average computer user uses maybe 1-200 gigs.

        Where do you pull that figure from? How much disk space are you using *right now*?

        My desktop? about 600 gb in use now.
        My HTPC? About 3 TB in use now.

        I'd imagine the average disk space in use on a home computer is 400 to 500 gigs.

        Todays $120 1.5TB drives will probably be full by the time the $120 4TB drives come out two years from now.

        For them, the effective price of HD storage hasn't changed significantly in about five years.

        That is an interesting way to fr

        • by beelsebob (529313)

          One word you are not: average.

          At least in regards to your storage use.

          • by coryking (104614) *

            Obviously :-) Most of my workstation's disk is full of virtual machine images. The HTPC, well that is obvious.

            Still, I'd be curious how much *data* is on an "average" computer. But even if you got a number, my guess the standard deviation would be quite high. Probably lots in the 750gb bracket and lots in the 10gb bracket.

            • by beelsebob (529313)

              My guess is that the average would be near 30GB, and the standard deviation fairly low – shit tons of corporate computers out there.

              My guess for home machines only would be close to 150GB at the moment, again with low standard deviation - people with VM images and lots of video files are *far* outnumbered by the masses with their mp3 collection and not much more on there.

              • by coryking (104614) *

                Corporate use? Heck yeah. Probably even lower than 30gb.

                Either way, I agree that for the average user, a 320gb SSD is plenty of space. By the time they graduate to a bigger drive, the 1TB ssd's will cost the same and they can move on in.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by CAIMLAS (41445)

          I do computer service/repair for a "living" right now. The average user - which, I take it, at least contains the subset of users who are my clients - are using less than 10Gb on average - with many using a couple dozen megabytes, and one or two using 20-30Gb. I've yet to run into a client where I could not simply back up their existing data + OEM install data on a 120G external disk array.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by rolfwind (528248)

            I do computer service/repair for a "living" right now. The average user - which, I take it, at least contains the subset of users who are my clients - are using less than 10Gb on average - with many using a couple dozen megabytes, and one or two using 20-30Gb. I've yet to run into a client where I could not simply back up their existing data + OEM install data on a 120G external disk array.

            Not to be rude, but the person who knows more about computers won't be coming to you since they could do it mostly them

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BikeHelmet (1437881)

        At that point, the tables will turn, HD manufacturing will be relegated to power users, and hard drive prices will skyrocket. I'd give them five years. At most.
        Their statement reads like a press release by a company that sees the writing on the wall and is trying to keep stock prices propped up as long as they can. Just saying.

        You're forgetting about some important factors.

        1) HDDs don't have excessive wear and tear from use. We don't know how long high end SSDs will last - but HDDs can go years of heavy read/write use.
        2) As prices of SSDs drop, companies will flock to the new market, shovelling out short lived crap. (Same thing happened to HDDs)
        2) HDDs will have superior capacity for a very long time. It will be hard to match that for the "best value" drives priced at around $100, or even the cheapest ones priced at ~$50.
        3) HDDs

        • by dgatwood (11270) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @02:43AM (#29862701) Journal

          1) HDDs don't have excessive wear and tear from use. We don't know how long high end SSDs will last - but HDDs can go years of heavy read/write use.

          You're joking, right? One of the most common causes of hard drive failures is damage to the heads from the head ramp. That's mechanical damage every time the heads get parked. And in laptops, the rate of damage is even worse because when they get bumped around, the head arm slams itself against the ramp to protect the platters. And the second most common cause is data corruption of the control track, without which the hard drive becomes a brick; there's a theory [dataclinic.co.uk] from one data recovery company that fluid bearings cause vibration that leads to this corruption. And that's not even counting the fact that you have a head arm moving back and forth, bearings spinning, etc. There's plenty of mechanical wear and tear going on, and some of it can be quite catastrophic.

          SSDs have none of those mechanical failure modes. And even the risk of solder ball failure (a common cause of hard drive controller board failure) should be significantly lower because solid state drives generally don't dissipate as much heat as spinning drives. Thus, the failure of a SSD is likely to be fairly predictable in write count to the point that you could set your watch by it, and the exceptions are likely to be much fewer than with hard drives.

          To put this in perspective, ask yourself this: when is the last time you had RAM suddenly go bad? In my life, I can only think of one single time when I've seen RAM that worked from the factory stop working, and I'm not 100% sure even of that one. Hard drives? I lost four last year alone. So it's not a question of whether SSDs will be more reliable on average, but how many orders of magnitude more reliable they will be. My money is on either 2 or 3.

          2) As prices of SSDs drop, companies will flock to the new market, shovelling out short lived crap. (Same thing happened to HDDs)

          Maybe so, but this is what reviews are for. :-)

          2) HDDs will have superior capacity for a very long time. It will be hard to match that for the "best value" drives priced at around $100, or even the cheapest ones priced at ~$50.

          Again, though, if 95% of customers don't need that capacity, there's no reason for them to buy a less reliable technology. And there's little question, given the failure rates [pcworld.com] on hard drives, that even the most poorly built junk SSDs are going to be more reliable on average, assuming you ignore all drives that are DOA....

          3) HDDs can ramp up the cache to have very awesome performance.

          I'd settle for a tenth of hard drive performance to have avoided my four hard drive failures last year. It was a brutal year. As soon as I can move entirely to SSDs, I'm switching and never looking back.

          Now picture a modern 3.5" drive with dual or quad heads from WD. Add in 4GB of cache, and make it 10000 RPM. Stick it in a DVD drive bay and include battery backup. The cost would literally be hundreds of dollars, but you'd have something like 8TB of space capable of almost maxing out SATA3. (500MB/sec for short bursts under 3 minutes long isn't unrealistic)

          And the average computer user would use... pretty much the 4 GB of cache, and wouldn't ever read or write a single byte to the physical platter except for data reliability reasons.... Saying that hard drive vendors could increase space by fourfold doesn't matter. They could increase it a hundredfold and it wouldn't matter if 95% of the customers don't care. It's like the problem with selling software upgrades. If customers don't see enough value in upgrading, they won't.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by BikeHelmet (1437881)

            Wow, I don't know how I missed writing two 2's into that post. :O

            1) Some vendors have a lot better track records. The real question is when have I had a drive fail within two years?

            Well, Seagate 7200.10's were particularly bad. I had two of those start chirping loudly, and RMA'd before the trouble started. But now that I'm mostly WD it seems okay. All my WD drives(~6) have been doing fine for 0-9 years. I even have an old Raptor still going strong, and matching modern drives for performance. (But not capaci

    • Drives can and do die prematurely, but the failure rate isn't so terribly high. Even when I get an SSD for my boot drive & applications, I'll still be using hard drives for the data for several years after that.

    • by selven (1556643)

      10 TB USB keys will be $10.

  • Define 'cheapest' (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @04:59PM (#29859605) Journal
    If you mean 'lowest cost per GB' then you're probably right. If you mean 'lowest cost per IOPS' then you're already wrong. And if we're talking 'lowest cost for something of adequate capacity and a low power consumption for a laptop' then you're also probably wrong too. When flash drives drop below about $1/GB (and it's already close) there will be little advantage in mechanical disks for most users. It doesn't matter if the disk is bigger if you're only using 10% of the capacity, and it's slower than the alternative and uses more power.
  • Speed vs Capacity (Score:3, Informative)

    by cjfs (1253208) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @04:59PM (#29859613) Homepage Journal

    Although flash memories have also become popular - with advantages such as lower power consumption, faster read access time, and better mechanical reliability than HDDs

    So HDDs will still be tops in terms of capacity, but SSDs win in everything else. They're getting to the price range now that they're a viable replacement for high-end systems that don't need massive storage. I doubt I'll even have a HDD in the next system I build, SSDs provide enough capacity.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      I'm guessing the (near) future will simply be HDD in NAS for "third party" files like MP3's and movies and SSD in PC's for OS/apps/personal files.

      From what I hear, more and more people are using NAS and the scenario I describe above only seems logical when using NAS.

    • by Krneki (1192201)
      Why choose only one storage option? I think I'll mix them, one for system performance and the other for storing my multimedia files, it's not like it needs much power if it is offline most of the time.
  • Prediction eh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xtal (49134) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @04:59PM (#29859617)

    The fact a major, respected, industry leader has predicted an upstart new technology will not surpass the incumbent technology is an indication it is almost certainly false.

    • Re:Prediction eh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:04PM (#29859663)

      The fact a major, respected, industry leader has predicted an upstart new technology will not surpass the incumbent technology is an indication it is almost certainly false.

      An industry leader who runs a company that has sold off all the other parts of the company over the years and now produces nothing but hard drives.

      Let's be honest, he's hardly going to say "Disks are dead within 5 years. Unfortunately, we'd need to put in 6 years of R&D to catch up with everyone else in the solid state storage arena."

  • Of course they will be cheapest, but only cheapest per/GB.

    As time goes on, SSD's will be the default in desktops and laptops... mostly because these systems don't need very large drives... especially as we move more and more data to the "cloud".

    Sure, per GB, magnetic storage will remain king when it comes to capacity, but they will only be used by those with extreme storage needs.

    • by syousef (465911)

      Of course they will be cheapest, but only cheapest per/GB.

      The very definition of cheapest.

      As time goes on, SSD's will be the default in desktops and laptops... mostly because these systems don't need very large drives... especially as we move more and more data to the "cloud".

      You've fallen for nothing but marketing drivel. The idea that programs and data are going to be more reliable and better (including better trusted) when one or more random organisations are in charge of it is just plain laughable. This

  • Fragmentation (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sumbius (1500703)
    I for one, just like many others, prefer hard disks over solid-state because of their more predictable lifespan. Solid-state drives tend to slowly lose parts of their usable sections. Even though the good old hard disks tend to break easily, at least I can defragment them without slowly starting to damage the disk. Yep, there are 2 different kinds of solid-state drives which handle this problem differently, but I still don't think the technology is matured enough yet. Perhaps in a few years. As for the mi
    • Re:Fragmentation (Score:5, Informative)

      by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:06PM (#29859677)
      "more predictable lifespan"? I take it someone hasn't had a drive head crash... SSDs have wear-leveling and usually on sectors that go bad it is still readable, you just can't write to it. HDDs are more prone to cataclysmic failure compared to SSDs, a SSD usually won't break unless you manage to physically break the circuit board, compared to the fragile platters of the HDD, etc. SSDs fail nicely, HDDs do not.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 0123456 (636235)

        SSDs fail nicely, HDDs do not.

        Perhaps I'm out of date, but from what I've read on the subject I was under the impression that SSDs were far more likely to suffer catastrophic failures than HDDs. Certainly of the numerous hard disks I've owned, the few that failed before I replaced them showed an increasing number of read errors and then bad sectors, giving plenty of notice that it was time to copy the data somewhere else.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by owlstead (636356)

        Or for some reason have a defective firmware, like I have on my Intel G2 SSD. Of course, that was maybe to be expected for any early adopter. Be aware though that this is a rather new technology. Some things are still developing like TRIM support and fast(er) writes.

      • Re:Fragmentation (Score:5, Interesting)

        by BikeHelmet (1437881) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @08:37PM (#29861089) Journal

        You're correct, but I have two nitpicks.

        First, don't confuse NAND used in SD cards and stuff with the same NAND used in SSDs. They're quite different qualities.

        I've had SD cards drop 1/8th their capacity after days of heavy use. SSDs, however, have higher quality NAND and wear-levelling controllers. For Linux, they have better filesystems, too.

        Second, up until the newest generation, most SSDs were susceptible to debilitating speed loss after some usage. To be safe, you had to half the benchmarked results. With TRIM and smarter controllers, this is mostly solved, but very heavy usage for extended periods will still result in speed loss. Remember, on an HDD deleting is basically a free operation, but on an SSD it has to physically erase. This would be most noticeable for say... a security camera box recording a dozen or more streams 24/7.

  • Very old article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iYk6 (1425255) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:02PM (#29859649)

    today, a typical 500 GB hard drive costs about $100

    This article must be several years old. In present day, a 1TB hard drive costs about $80.

    October 23rd, 2009 By Lisa Zyga

    Doh!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Suiggy (1544213)
      For a 5200rpm "green" drive, perhaps. But for 7200rpm enterprise-grade storage with RAID support, like Western Digital's RE3 and RE4 line of drives, you're still up at around $200 for a 1TB drive and $375 for a 2TB drive.
      • It's about $90-$100 for a 1TB WD Caviar Black which, quite frankly, is the only terabyte drive your average home user should even look at. For those of us looking for something enterprise-grade, then, yeah, an RE3 is a bit more, but we're certainly not average.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dgatwood (11270)

      But most SSDs are designed for laptops because that's where hard drives are most at risk. A 500 GB laptop drive does cost almost $100.

  • by Suiggy (1544213) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:08PM (#29859697)
    I mean, both Intel and OCZ have said that once they get to tri and quad-state MLC flash technology, prices should drop considerably by 2012. I think Seagate just doesn't want to be relegated as a dying tech company.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by imsabbel (611519)

      And even if it would drop down to 1/4th, it would still be 10 times as expensive as hard drives are today.

      It will NEVER be cheaper to make chips than to put magnetic films on some metal / glass discs, at least if you are looking at large amounts of storage.

      Its just the fact that the performance gain will enable more and more uses.
      For bulk storage of Petabytes i will bet that you will go for hard drives even after 2020.

      PS: Tri /quad state (is really 8 / 16 state, as MLC already has 4 states to get 2 bits) wi

  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:13PM (#29859737)

    Most of my non-server machines only use about 40-50gb of disk space, even though the hard drives have gradually grown from 20 to 40 to 120 to 500 to 1500GB over the last few years. Each time I build a system, I tend to throw in whatever drive costs about $100-125 when I order my parts. So based on my past usage model, I'd have no problem switching over to SSD if I can get say...128GB of storage for $100-125. On those occasions where I need a big chunk of permanent storage, I'll just get some sort of external hard disk that will undoubtedly continue to plummet in price.

    • On those occasions where I need a big chunk of permanent storage, I'll just get some sort of external hard disk that will undoubtedly continue to plummet in price.

      This is why I love eSATA :D

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      I don't think we will have "disk drives" for much longer. My eeepc has flash soldered in. Desktop motherboard manufacturers will start to do that too. Laptop manufacturers will save space by eliminating drive bays.

      Its less flexible but that just promotes obsolescence, which the manufacturers love.

  • Duh. New desktop PCs and full scale laptops should have 2 disks in them. An SSD, with the C: drive partition with the OS and Program Files folders. Nearly all software will install itself to the SSD by default that way. Also the swap partition should go here.

    "My Documents\Downloads" and the default download directories should go to the mechanical hard disk. The slightly complex part is that users should know to store small files to the SSD and big ones to the hard disk, unless the big files are somethi

    • ZFS is supposed to do this (on solaris), and you're right, the best way to take advanate of this would be smart system software; on the other hand, simply creating two folders: Large_Files and Small_Files and doing the management yourself shouldn't be that bad... anyway, I think this is probably the not-so-distant future of storage; "smart storage" where often accessed files or files where fast read/write speeds are the most critical should be on an SSD while other files, are stored to conventional spi
      • No, it wouldn't be that bad doing it yourself. Personally, my future machines will have enough SSD storage to hold absolutely everything BUT video files, audio files, and pictures. That would be one intelligent way to decide what files to move to the mechanical disk : for the most part, any sort of video file or audio file can be safely put on a hard drive without losing performance. In both cases, the computer reads the file in a predictable, sequential manner when playing back that kind of file, and ev

    • by coryking (104614) *

      OS support would be the best way : a smart OS could 'cache' files to the SSD or automatically remove files from the SSD when it's getting full

      Bingo. The file system would basically abstract out the fact there is a really slow but huge drive and a fast but relatively small drive. You'd have a "C:" drive and the file system would hide the fact that it would be using the SSD as basically a 300+ GB cache for your 4TB disk. Only unlike your RAM, it doesn't have to worry about what happens when it loses power

  • Everyone knows that hard drives will continue to get bigger and bigger, and smaller drives will drop off the market and the "entry" price will remain around the same. But if you don't *NEED* such huge drives, then SSDD works just fine. My Netbook can attest to that. Sure- I can't store ALL my music and ALL my video and ALL my pictures, but I don't need to on that type of device. Linux seems to work just fine on SSDD, saves a bit of battery, seems a bit faster overall, and it is impervious to jarring and
  • by Haxx (314221)

        There has always been and will always be a 22% chance that 90% of the time, 45% of the people will only be correct 62% of the time when attempting to predict the future to 100% accuracy. Henceforth and seemingly only a partially untrue tautology.

  • by Saeger (456549) <farrellj@gmailLAPLACE.com minus math_god> on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:43PM (#29859999) Homepage

    Nobody with a clue has been arguing that SSD's would be cheaper per gigabyte than ye olde spinning-platter HDDs any time soon.

    What we're seeing now, and will see much more of, is the hybrid approach of combining a small-ish (80GB) SSD for the most-accessed OS & Apps, with a monsterously huge and relatively slow (array of) HDDs for bulk data archival and backup.

    With HDD I/O still the single biggest bottleneck today, it makes sense to start transitioning to SSDs, but it doesn't have to be all at once. The premium for SSDs -- ~$2.50/GB SSD vs ~$0.10/GB HDD -- isn't that much, but it will probably pay for most to wait another year not just for prices to fall more, but for all SSDs to finally support TRIM, and have efficient firmware that competes with indilinx and intel's. SATA3 will also be welcome as current SSDs have already hit the SATA2 xfer limit.

    (Oh, and please don't eat the "ZOMG SSDs have limited write-cycles!" FUD. In the vast majority of normal usage patterns, you'll never ever get close to hitting it, and even you did, the failure mode still allows you to READ your data off if you had no backup, as opposed to a HDD crash.)

    • by Shadyman (939863)
      "With HDD I/O still the single biggest bottleneck today"

      I still say it's PEBCAK.. I can't type those 0s and 1s nearly fast enough.
    • by sukotto (122876)
      When Linus does it... can his followers be far behind? http://torvalds-family.blogspot.com/2008/10/so-i-got-one-of-new-intel-ssds.html [blogspot.com] I'm looking at doing the same thing for my next machine.
  • HDDs are still much better for data storage -- it's a mature technology which is quite reliable and won't be replaced any time soon.

    However, SSDs are already replacing HDDs on netbooks, notebooks will follow: lower power consumption, less noise, immunity to bumps and shake make SSDs so attractive in that segment.

    SSDs use on desktops is somewhat limited -- they are much better as a system disk because of fast IO times, but most users won't really care about that extra speedup.
    Vendors might offer dual-disk co

    • You won't care (Score:3, Insightful)

      by coryking (104614) *

      but most users won't really care about that extra speedup.

      The hard drive has been a limiting factor in all kinds of things. Why were you taught to "always save your work"? Cause hard drives are slow and it was infeasable to have the application save data in real-time. With an SSD, most applications can probably save your work in real-time. Why does it take so long to boot? Cause the hard drive is slow. With an SSD you can probably afford to quickly dump all of your memory out to "disk" and shut the co

    • Re:To each his own. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash@p10liWELTYnk.net minus author> on Saturday October 24, 2009 @10:08PM (#29861513) Homepage

      However, SSDs are already replacing HDDs on netbooks
      Funny i've noticed things the other way round, all the early netbooks were SSD based but now lots of them have moved to a slightly larger form factor accomodating a hard drive.

  • http://www.mattscomputertrends.com/flashdiskcomparo.html [mattscomputertrends.com]

    ^ this guy disagree's, saying the transition will come as early as 2013-2014 (five years from march 2008) for 2.5" drives.

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