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Data Storage Upgrades Technology

How Data Storage Has Grown In the Past 60 Years 100

Posted by timothy
from the megaleaps-and-gigabounds dept.
Lucas123 writes "Imagine that in 1952, an IBM RAMAC 350 disk drive would have been able to hold only one .MP3 song. Today, a 4TB 3.5-in desktop drive (soon to be 5TB) can hold 760,000 songs. As much data as the digital age creates (2.16 Zettabytes and growing), data storage technology has always found a way to keep up. It is the fastest growing semiconductor technology there is. Consider a microSD card that in 2005 could store 128MB of capacity. Last month, SanDisk launched a 128GB microSD card — 1,000 times the storage in under a decade. While planar NAND flash is running up against a capacity wall, technology such as 3D NAND and Resistive Random Access Memory (RRAM) hold the promise of quadrupling of solid state capacity. Here are some photos of what was and what is in data storage."
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How Data Storage Has Grown In the Past 60 Years

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  • I bought an IDE enclosure and i'm going over my drives...

    The oldest- which still spun up was only 8 GB. I had a really hard time throwing it away since it still works. But i looked at the memory sticks on the desk... which cost $4.99 to $15.99 and had the same or higher storage.. and I put it in the trash.

    Same for the 80GB drive from 2003.

    Debating on the 120GB drive. It might actually be big enough to keep.

    My first drive... cost me $88 and held... 88 megabytes. That was sometime in the mid to late 80's

    • by bloosh (649755) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @02:37AM (#46490253)
      If your drive cost $88 for 88 megabytes in the late 80's, you got an insane deal. I think your math may be off a bit.
      • by fractoid (1076465)
        Yeah, our first x86 computer (in 1993) originally had a 40mb hard drive, and that was mid-range.
      • It was used. But it could have been the early 90's.

        I was still in college and I graduated in 96 so it had to be pre-1996.

        • I was still in college and I graduated in 96 so it had to be pre-1996.

          Wow -- your last post said "mid to late 80s" and now it could have been up to 1996. That's more than a decade, and you can't be more accurate about when you bought what you said was your first hard drive?

          Must have been one hell of a college experience.

          • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @09:45AM (#46491685)

            Wow -- your last post said "mid to late 80s" and now it could have been up to 1996. That's more than a decade, and you can't be more accurate about when you bought what you said was your first hard drive?

            Obviously, he calculated it on the Pentium box he put the disk into.

          • I went to college for 11 years.

            And actually I graduated in 1993 (didn't feeling like posting to correct that) so the drive was pre 1993- and probably pre 1991.

            I don't clearly recall events that happened over 20 years ago (tho I can still see the house I bought the drive at- it was on a corner with a bayou behind it).

            I was a teetotalar back then but I had cancer in 91-92 and the chemo noticeably affected my brain. These days I'm a social drinker.

            But for the nitpickers...

            The oldest drive I remember was a 5MB

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        In the late 80s I was living near Seagate, so I could get used MFM drives for $1/MB or so. I wasn't the only one getting deals like these. And the Amiga that followed my PC-1 had a SCSI+MFM controller card, so I could actually make use of them.

    • I still have a functioning 20MB drive in an Amiga 1000 Sidecar.
    • and I put it in the trash.

      I'm not sure if you mean that you actually threw it into the regular trash or not, but I'd like to point out that there are plenty of ways you can have old hard drives recycled. Every Best Buy retail location will accept old hard drives for recycling at no cost, and there are other places as well. They don't care what size / interface / etc, just take them up to customer service and they will happily take them. If you don't like Best Buy you can find other places to take them as well.

      I expect you've h

      • Actually I hadn't considered that.

        Your helpful suggestion will result in up to 12 used hard drives going to best buy!

        Grats! You made a difference!

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      Bah. I still have a 20 MEG drive that works perfectly. (Actually, two. One MFM, one IDE.)

      I got rid of most of my very old drives a while back too. And too late, discovered that some of 'em were worth big bucks to data recovery companies... $900 for that 10mb Rodine. [crying]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2014 @01:08AM (#46490035)

    "Today, a 4TB 3.5-in desktop drive (soon to be 5TB) can hold 760,000 songs"

    This is how I'd try to explain the disk capacity to my parents, and how marketing departments may handle it. It is irrelevant due to variations in song length, style and compression methods. It reminds me of hard drives advertised as big enough to store 5 gigabytes of *compressed* data. Not very useful.

    • by Anrego (830717) * on Saturday March 15, 2014 @01:33AM (#46490119)

      To be honest, it wasn't a terrible unit of measure early on, especially with things like mp3 players, cameras, and SD cards.

      Yes, an mp3 can vary in size dramatically, but there is a fairly consistent average. Most mp3's are going to be somewhere between 3 and 10 MB. That's close enough to give a rough estimate of how many "songs" you can fit on your mp3 player.

      It was a reasonable measure for a non-technical person because it was a capability they were actually concerned with. These days it's silly though, because the number of songs you can fit on even the cheapest walmart mp3 player is in the "probably more songs than you will listen to in your lifetime" kinda range. It's turned into a big cool sounding number rather than a useful piece of information.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        These days Slashdot is heavily dumbed down. This is a tech news site for nerds, we can handle saying that 5MB hard drives were the norm back then.

        It's just part of the slow decline of Slashdot. Bullshit articles intended for non-technical people thrown in as filler. SoylentNews arguable has too many stories now but at least they tend to be technical in nature, not on the level of "herp derp computers, like everything else in the world, improved over time".

        And yes, I do vote on the submission queue, just not

        • by Reziac (43301) *

          What I've noticed since the, um, Great Migration referenced in your sig, is that slashdot now has a lot of posters I don't recall having ever seen before..,. some of every stripe, but generally without the fire in the belly, if you know what I mean. I think that, more than the current crop of articles, has caused a shift in tone.

          I now spend more time on SN. Fuck beta!

      • Most mp3's are going to be somewhere between 3 and 10 MB. That's close enough to give a rough estimate of how many "songs" you can fit on your mp3 player.

        MP3 player manufacturers used 'You Suffer' by Napalm Death encoded at 32kbps as their reference MP3.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y... [wikipedia.org]

        "You Suffer" is a song by the British grindcore band Napalm Death, from their debut album, Scum. The song has earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the shortest recorded song ever. It is precisely 1.316 seconds long/quote.

        It's like hard disk manufacturers using the decimal version of a megabyte to make their drives look bigger.

    • by u38cg (607297)
      Presuming you specify the encoding method, the law of large numbers means that 760,000 MP3 tracks specifies a fairly accurate amount of storage, probably within the bounds of the uncertainty over 1000kB=1MB nonsense.
    • Not once did the author of TFA bother to use the LOC (Library of Congress) as a measure of data. Now I'm totally lost. I don't even know how much data a GB or a TB can store. Please use the LOC measure next time! It is less confusing.

    • So a hard drive can store 760,000 songs. Lets say it cost just $1 per song so that hard drive would have $760,000 worth of songs on it. I hope it is backed up and has an armed guard watching it 24 hours a day. It is obvious that most people can not legally come close to filling up their hard drives as it would cost many times what the hard drive cost. So lets store movies and songs that one will never again watch or listen to just to say we have them. So what are we using all this storage for? Soon I w
    • by Mars729 (3469921)
      760,000 songs may be close to all the digital songs in existence. If you don't need your hard drive to hold movies (and some other niches like scientific data) then today's hard drives are more than big enough in size. You can easily get a solid state drive nowadays that can hold everything. They are much faster than hard drive, but have shorter lives. So the future is in increasing the speed of storage while also increasing the lifespan of the storage. If 20 TB hard drives come out in five years -- I'
  • And I still aint got enough storage to satisfy my data hoarding habit . My last purchase was a 1TB internal SATA which cost me ~ $60 . I 've hoarded movies that i'll probably never watch .. I deleted poltergeist (all of em) though ..
  • How long is a song?

    I have .mp3 tracks that last upto an hour, and others that are less than a minute.
    Using a song as a measure of data storage is silly, even worse than using football fields or states of Rhode Island for linear or area measure.

    Maybe they would use 140 bytes (a tweet or SMS) as a standard

    But all of slashdot should know that a KiloByte is 1024 bytes
    and a MegiByte is 1024 Kilobytes

    • But all of slashdot should know that a KiloByte is 1024 bytes
      and a MegiByte is 1024 Kilobytes

      WRONG! A MegiByte is when a wizard bites you.

    • by Anrego (830717) *

      It made a certain amount of sense to advertise how many _average_ sized songs you could fit on say, an mp3 player back when this was actually an often limiting factor. The same could be said about cameras and SD cards. It was a useful piece of information to a non-technical person, and in general, wasn't really that inaccurate.

      These days, even the cheap "Coby" type mp3 players can hold thousands of songs, so it's just turned into a big shiny number.

    • All of slashdot should know the hard drive industry uses 1000, not 1024. It makes their drives seem bigger.

      • by Jeremi (14640) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @01:57AM (#46490197) Homepage

        All of slashdot should know the hard drive industry uses 1000, not 1024. It makes their drives seem bigger.

        Also, it follows the standard. (and by standard, I don't mean the computer industry's informal, approximated, bastardized de-facto 'standard', I mean the actual standard [wikipedia.org] that just about every other scientific and engineering enterprise on the planet conforms to)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Metric is all well and good, but [the vast majority of] computer systems are not base-10 (decimal), they're base-2 (binary). That's why computers use 1024 (10000000000 in binary). HDD manufacturers latched on to using metric solely for marketing purposes - the hard drives themselves and the file systems used on them store information in binary.

          • by Fweeky (41046) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @05:24AM (#46490655) Homepage

            Why always picking on the HD manufacturers? Your GigE network runs at 1,000,000,000 bits per second, not 1,073,741,824, what a scam!

            Memory is measured in multiples of powers of two because that's how the addressing works [github.com]. Disks and network have no such fundamental limitations - they count in sectors and frames, which are themselves not necessarily powers of two.

            • by geoskd (321194)

              Why always picking on the HD manufacturers? Your GigE network runs at 1,000,000,000 bits per second, not 1,073,741,824, what a scam!

              Data transmissions are based on resonant frequencies of reference crystals, and have no fundamental connection to a binary counting system (except perhaps in terms of harmonics). Hard disk drives use sectors which at some basic level have to be addressed by a powers of two binary addressing system. This means that no matter what else you do with sector sizes or block sizes, the binary counting system *always* comes into the picture. Base 10 by contrast is the interloper there.

              Memory is measured in multiples of powers of two because that's how the addressing works. Disks and network have no such fundamental limitations - they count in sectors and frames, which are themselves not necessarily powers of two.

              Wrong, and wrong again. *All*

              • Actually BCD was (is) mostly used for accounting application where rounding isn't acceptable. Scientists mostly use floating point where the rounding doesn't matter. For those who want a COBOL example PIC 9(6)V99 could well be stored and calculated as BCD arithmetic and would retain 8 digits of precision.
              • by Fweeky (41046) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @09:17AM (#46491517) Homepage

                Hard disk drives use sectors which at some basic level have to be addressed by a powers of two binary addressing system. This means that no matter what else you do with sector sizes or block sizes, the binary counting system *always* comes into the picture.

                Right, they're addressed using LBA48, which happens to be encoded in binary because that's how we build computers. That doesn't imply disks naturally only support powers of two for sector counts or sizes - they evidently don't.

                CDs and DVDs have 2,352 and 2,418 byte physical sectors. Some Fibre Channel HD's support 520 byte sectors, and of course like optical discs all HD's have substantially bigger physical sectors internally for error detection and correction. A quick sampling of some of my HD's reveals drives with 732,566,646, 3,907,029,168, 500,118,192 and 312,581,808 sectors (at least they're all even?).

                Ethernet is even more flexible, supporting any frame sizes between 64 bytes to over 9KB, hardware permitting. Note 9KB is not a power of two.

                Wrong, and wrong again. *All* computer peripherals transmit data to and from computers encoded in binary signals. It means that all computer based addressing is essentially binary

                Um. Yes, the numbers are encoded in binary. No, this doesn't mean computers can only handle number maximums that are a power of two. Memory happens to be like that because it has to be insanely low latency and simple bit operations like masking off the lower portion of an address is very efficient, but not everything is so restricted.

                • by Agripa (139780)

                  Ethernet is even more flexible, supporting any frame sizes between 64 bytes to over 9KB, hardware permitting. Note 9KB is not a power of two.

                  Jumbo frame size restrictions are hardware limitations. The protocol allows sizes up to 2^16-1.

                  Ethernet jumbo frame length is specified in the encapsulated IP header length field, which is 16 bits wide, when the 16 bit EtherType field is set to 0x8870 instead of an Ethernet frame length below 1536. The hardware does not support the maximum power-of-2 length of 65,535

            • Why always picking on the HD manufacturers? Your GigE network runs at 1,000,000,000 bits per second, not 1,073,741,824, what a scam!

              Easy. For the same reason you'd be pissed off at a builder that built the rooms ten percent or more smaller than advertised in your house, or translated requirements to meters and intentionally then built in feet. It's fraud! If you needed a twenty-by-twenty room to fit your living room in and the builder made it sixteen-by-sixteen wouldn't you be pissed? Networking technology is known to have degraded efficiency percentages due to transients, bad cables, etc. there is an acceptable amount of loss expected

            • by Bengie (1121981)
              Network interfaces work on bits and HDs work on bytes. Network devices do not require alignment but HDs do. Network devices do not require an address space, HDs do. Because of this, HDs need to work with powers of two and network devices do not. Imagine if your L1/2/3 cache was in base 10. You can't because it's impossible with binary, or you can because you don't understand how they work.

              Because one device works on bits and the other requires working on bytes and uses an address space, one is base 10 and
              • Hard drives don't share an address space with other hard drives, memory does.
                That's the difference.

              • by Fweeky (41046)

                Reality disagrees with you. The user data portion of a sector is normally a power of two for convenience, being used on computers with power of two page sizes, but drives themselves are no more limited to power of two number of or size of sectors than your computer is limited to power of two size array or structure lengths, and this is readily confirmed by the existence of disks with 520 byte sectors (and somewhat different [wikimedia.org] physical sizes) and an irritatingly diverse range of sector counts.

            • by Jeremi (14640)

              Memory is measured in multiples of powers of two because that's how the addressing works

              Having memory manufactured in quantities reflecting powers of two makes perfect sense.

              Hijacking well-defined metric prefixes to express something that they do not actually represent, however, is a problem. Hence the recent introduction of alternate prefixes [wikipedia.org] to describe powers-of-two based values. (Yes, they sound silly, because we're not used to them, but not nearly as silly as e.g. using "kilo" to mean something other than 10^3)

        • by rossdee (243626)

          ", I mean the actual standard that just about every other scientific and engineering enterprise on the planet conforms to)"

          If they (industry, science and engineering) followed the actual standard, then 1000 Kilograms would be a Megagram

          and also we wouldn't have batteries with capacities like 2000 milliamp-hours - it would be simplified to 2 amp-hours

          • by CSMoran (1577071)

            and also we wouldn't have batteries with capacities like 2000 milliamp-hours - it would be simplified to 2 amp-hours

            Surely, you mean 7.2 kamp-seconds, or just 7.2 kC?

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          The standard is mathematical reality, not some "we like zeros" standard. 2^10 = kilo, 2^20 = Mega. Binary trumps decimal when dealing with computers.
      • by fractoid (1076465)
        I prefer to use power-of-two values for my length measurements, too. At 2 cm = 1 inch, I'm way more inches than you.
    • by u38cg (607297)
      Law of Large Numbers, meet Rossdee. Rossdee, meet the Law of Large Numbers [wikipedia.org]. I'm sure you'll get on.
    • by smhsmh (1139709)

      At least an American football field is a well-defined standard unit. (Canadian is different, as is international football.) But you can find these sizes on Wikipedia or in the official rules of the organizing committees.

      Not so the standard unit song which does not appear on the Wikipedia disambiguation page for "song."

      I believe I first saw "song" used as a measure of storage capacity in an Apple ad, perhaps for an early Ipad. At the time I thought it was an slippery and slightly dangerous way for marketi

      • The original ipod was described thusly [everymac.com]

        The original iPod features a 5 GB hard drive (10 GB option available after March 21, 2002) capable of holding 1000 songs in 160-Kbps MP3 format (or 2000 on the 10 GB drive), a high output amplifier (60-mW), a FireWire port, and a standard 3.5-mm headphone jack in an ultrasleek "iBook white" and stainless steel case with a 2-inch white backlit LCD display. Battery life is an estimated 10 hours

        4 minutes per song. Which may be a the long side.
        when hawking a large hard drive, it may be wiser to describe it in terms of "hours of high definition video", because compared to video, audio, even lossless audio, seems a bit of an afterthought.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's not a matter of the storage technology "keeping up" with the trend.

    People and organizations adapt their need based on how much storage they can afford. The more the technology develops, the cheaper it gets, the more storage people purchase, and the more storage people use.

    The summary has mixed up cause and effect.

    • by Anrego (830717) *

      Yup!

      Even for home use this is true. I've now ripped my entire (quite large) DVD collection because the cost of the storage to make it happen became low enough to be worth it for the convenience of having my whole collection available on my file server.

      That was a few years ago, and at the time I ripped everything to h264 and mainly just ripped the main feature (not all the commentary/bonus tracks/etc). Now storage is cheap enough that if I were to do it all again, I'd probably just store disk images.

  • how many libraries of congress will it hold?

    really an MP3 can be a 3 second fart to infinity, what asinine crap measurement is this? oh yea joe six pack who cant log into the internet on a wifi cable inernets

  • by jones_supa (887896) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @03:03AM (#46490309)

    Imagine that in 1952, an IBM RAMAC 350 disk drive would have been able to hold only one .MP3 song. Today, a 4TB 3.5-in desktop drive (soon to be 5TB) can hold 760,000 songs.

    So what! At least it can hold a full song. Put a good song there and enjoy. It's better than having 760,000 misc songs which I never have time to listen to anyway.

  • I sometimes wish I had Stevie Griffins time-machine and to go back in time visiting that local computer store on the corner, just to wave my 32gb "stamp" in their faces. You can keep your amazing 5mb ST-drive. Of course, the point is MOOT since I probably wouldn't get the interface to work with their old computers anyway, not to mention the "large disk" compatibility.
  • that low quality crap? That's one too many!
  • When will we get a drive that can hold an actual Googol Byte (Ten to the power of 100)

  • 1993 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Solandri (704621) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @04:07AM (#46490487)
    In 1993 I'd just bought a Thinkpad 700 laptop [theregister.co.uk] with a 80 MB hard drive. The company I was working at sent me to help model test a new ship at the DTRC (the biggest US Navy tow tank). About my third day there, there were a bunch of washing machine-sized plastic and metal boxes piled up haphazardly near the entrance. I asked one of the DTRC employees who was helping us what they were.

    "Hard drives."
    Bemused, I asked what their capacity was.
    "Oh, about 10 MB."
    "Damn, how old are they?"
    "1970s, maybe 1960s.
    "So you guys just shoved them in the warehouse and are finally getting around to throwing them away now?"
    "Oh no, we were still using them up until yesterday. The budget requisition for new hard drives finally came through."
    "..."

    Still, it makes me wonder if modern hard drives could last ~20 years in a research/industrial environment.
    • by FolkDude (823432)
      Yeah, I did a project in the 1980's that involved writing software for a late 1970's- vintage Texas Instruments computer. The client loaned me the computer while I was developing the software, so I had it set up in my basement for a few months. It had a 10MB hard drive (5MB fixed + 5MB removable), and we needed 4 guys to carry it down the stairs.
    • by mcrbids (148650)

      Remember that old hardware is subject to a selection bias: the stuff that was crap died long ago; only the good stuff remains!

      I have a ancient Pentium 3 with 512 MB of RAM that I use as a network monitor. It's done that job continuously for 10+ years and I haven't replaced it because it has literally never given me a problem. If it was doing "real work" I'd have replaced it long ago, but it does what it does fine, and uses so little power (18 watts) that I feel no need to replace it.

      I was a bit relieved whe

  • 2.5" Hard Drives have been stagnant though. While SSDs have been steadily improving, the biggest 2.5" HDD you could get a few years ago was 750 GB, and now it's still just 1 TB.

    • I assume you're talking about 9.5mm drives because there have been 2tb 15mm drives for quite a while. And Samsung recently released a 9.5mm 2tb drive but they're only selling it in portable cases for some stupid reason.

  • I've got more storage now than I ever thought existed when I was a kid. I have a 32tb fault tolerant array in my RV. My little pocket camera has 32 gigs. So does my phone. I've got 4 2tb drives I cycled out of my array that are just sitting in boxes because I have no use for them.

  • ....When a 20 MB Seagate ST-225 hard drive at US$499 including controller was considered a good deal--and this was way back in 1984! Today, I can get _three_ 3 TB hard drives and still have US$50 left from that same US$499.

  • I paid close to $300 for an 80 Meg scsi hard drive while my friend had a 200 Meg hard drive the size of a dishwasher (what most thought it was) for his Unix.

    I kept backups on 3.5 floppies (one of three) http://i42.tinypic.com/2hwpx82... [tinypic.com] , then on 700 Meg CD's upto Blueray DVD's that hold some 24 Gigs. Only one BlueRay DVD made it though with no errors, yet no data loss.

    It's cheaper, more reliable, and a damn lot easier now to make my back-ups to USB hard drives and sticking them away until needed.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For a real insight into increased density of storage, look at the enterprise level SANs. 10 years ago 10TB of storage took up several racks. I just installed a 3PAR array. It's configured for 60TB and takes up 1/4 of a 42U rack, and uses 1/10th of the power.

  • 19 nanometers is, in fact, about a *hundred times* the estimated size of an atom (as measured as the distance from one atom to the next in a solid).

  • A recording of "Blue Tango" [youtube.com] by Leroy Anderson "Pops" Concert Orchestra. Made for some pretty risque dance moves.
  • http://deslide.clusterfake.net... [clusterfake.net] OR http://desli.de/11II [desli.de] for an ugly web page with all pages merged.

  • 1952 typo? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @03:39PM (#46494217) Homepage Journal

    in 1952, an IBM RAMAC 350 disk drive would have been able to hold only one .MP3 song

    Where is that 1952 date coming from? It wasn't commercially available until about 1956, in limited quantities, and as best I can tell, it's from a research project that started in 1953 with the goal of testing the various storage possibilities, disk being one of many. Thus, it's not likely that working prototypes would be available until about 1954 or '55.

  • Unfortunately, backup capacity does not scale as storage does, network throughput being a common bottleneck.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The larger disks, the more data corruption. I quote the wikipedia article on ZFS:
    "...The main problem is that hard disk capacities have increased substantially, but their error rates remain unchanged. The data corruption rate has always been roughly constant in time, meaning that modern disks are not much safer than old disks. In old disks the probability of data corruption was very small because they stored tiny amounts of data. In modern disks the probability is much larger because they store much more da

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