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Data Storage Hardware

Seagate Ships Billionth Hard Drive 245

Lucas123 writes "Seagate's first drive, shipped in 1979 was the ST506, which had a capacity of 5MB and cost a cool $1,500 — or $300 per megabyte. Today, a typical Seagate holds 1TB and cost just 1/5000th of a cent ($0.0002) per megabyte. Seagate, which claims to be the first company to ship a billion drives, says all those drives amounted to 79 million terabytes of capacity, enough for 158 billion hours of digital video or 1.2 trillion hours of MP3 songs." Update: 04/23 14:56 GMT by CT : The quoted fraction is wrong. Someone complain to ComputerWorld. Update: 04/23 15:13 GMT by CT : TY. The site is corrected to say "just 1/50th of a cent ($0.0002) per megabyte." The universal equation is once again balanced.
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Seagate Ships Billionth Hard Drive

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  • Same as it ever was. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by willeyhill ( 1277478 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @10:12AM (#23171156)

    It's funny how it always seems as if the next drive we purchase offers virtually limitless and impossible to use storage space but is never really enough [].

  • Its all relative (Score:2, Interesting)

    by phpmysqldev ( 1224624 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @10:12AM (#23171160)
    While todays hard drives may be much larger, its not going to be long before we move on. I remember when I got my first 100mb HD and thinking "wow this is it ill never need any more storage than this". But now we know that as HD capacity increases so will the features and size software and media. Think of how big the first windows distro was and how big Vista is. Soon we'll all have HD DVD rips and real life quality music filling our new 100TB HDs

    In short, we as consumers don't need to worry about how to use this multitude of ever expanding space; software and media companies will do it for us. ;)
  • Re:Wrong photo! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @10:22AM (#23171306)
    You're right. The ST506 was full-height, (remember the squeaky monkey-like noise it made?) the ST225 was half-height - somewhere in my basement, I still have an ST225 I paid $250 for.
  • Imagine that... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by onion2k ( 203094 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @10:22AM (#23171310) Homepage
    158 billion hours is a shade over 18 million years. If you had a camera fixed to record for the past 18 million years you'd only have started in the Miocene era ... it'd all look really quite modern. It'd have been a bit more grassy, but there'd be recognisable mammals like deer and wolves, birds like ducks and grouse.

    It sounds a like long time, but it really isn't.
  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @10:27AM (#23171382) Homepage
    Everybody I know has some vendor they swear by, and some vendor they think is just terrible. I know people who think Western Digital is the best, and that Maxtor is crap. I know people who say the exact opposite. None of these people buy enough hard drives to have any real say in which one is better than the other. Google probably buys enough drives, but they don't buy the consumer level desktop drives either, so I don't know if I'd trust their opinion much either.
  • Re:mp3s (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @10:28AM (#23171392) Journal
    Yeah, but nobody expected to be ripping entire DVD collections to HD for use in a media server back then. Now it's economical to do it, especially if you've already got a PC doing DVR work. At less than 20c/GB, it's less than a dollar to rip a typical movie (without the extras and ads) to a server. That compares favorably to putting discs into a jukebox, and has the advantage of speed and playing multiple streams at once.

    Now that HD content is out, we need the capacities to go up another order of magnitude so that storing HD is as easy*/cheap as SD.

    *I buy discs, but download the rips. My setup is only 720p, so it's easier to get someone else's recode at 720p than do it myself, and it takes less space on my server. With 2TB in DVDs and recorded content off TiVo/OTA, I'm always worried about bumping into the limit on my unRaid box and having to buy more drives.
  • Re:Its all relative (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rlk ( 1089 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @10:28AM (#23171400)
    The problem is that bandwidth (and for that matter latency, only more so) hasn't kept pace with capacity. So yes, we have a lot more storage capacity, but getting the data onto and off the disk hasn't improved by nearly as much.

    It's relatively not *too* bad if you're working with large files that can stream. A system I bought in 1994 had a 420 MB disk, which was state of the art at the time. Its bandwidth was on the order of 1 MB/sec. In contrast, the 500 MB disks I'm using now get about 60 MB/sec (internal SATA, at any rate -- USB disks are still limited to 20 MB/sec). That's about 1200x the storage with 60x the transfer rate, so the relative transfer performance (a word I just made up) is about 5% of what it was then.

    Latency's another matter altogether. Both seek time and rotational latency are about half what they were then (rotational latency based on 7200 RPM today vs. 3600 RPM in the mid 1990's). So if you're latency-bound, you're really in tough shape. If you're streaming ogg files or what have you, you don't have this problem, but if you're paging to disk (or use applications that create a lot of small files, or scan directories containing lots o'files) you're really in a world of hurt.

    Enterprise SAS disks tend to be a lot lower in capacity (74 and 150 GB are common sizes), but rotate at 15000 RPM. So you're spreading out your data over a lot more disks, improving your net throughput, and you're suffering much less from latency. If your application's multi-threaded, with plenty of threads performing queued I/O and plenty of workers, you can make progress even while you're waiting for other I/O ops to complete.
  • I'm amazed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SeePage87 ( 923251 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @10:30AM (#23171428)
    Just thinking about how much of that storage is filled by redundant data blows my mind. It seems like such an inefficient structure. Imagine how much could be saved if there was only one copy of each song (lossless, why not), each movie, etc, and instead the trillions of dollars spent on storage, we spent slightly less trillions to build up massive networking infrastructure and a few server farms that make it all accessible on the fly. Obviously unrealistic, but a fascinating idea. I have approaching 2.5TB of media at home, but the vast majority of it just sits there essentially never used. I only need it locally because my home network has the bandwidth to access it whenever I want. But even so, I only use a small part of that bandwidth an hour or two a day at most. Getting rid of redundant storage could realistically reduce storage needs 99% (ever see a torrent with 100 seeds? All the time), and bandwidth consumption wouldn't be too many times greater (by some measures) than YouTube uses, because by far most of the time we aren't consuming highly dense media. You'd need a world with completely free culture, though. Just a thought.
  • OK for music? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by redelm ( 54142 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @10:36AM (#23171504) Homepage
    Hmm ... IANAL, but this sounds very much like those hard disks are "marketed for the primary purpose of making digital audio copied recordings" []. Why else would the full capacity be quoted as music/MP3?

    Their lawyers must work out the royalties, but consumers get a very nice copyright exemption. [] Dunno about P2P, but it might also be covered.

  • by gnutoo ( 1154137 ) * on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @10:44AM (#23171600) Journal

    Ugh. 20MB, 540MB, 5GB, soon 500GB all filled with binary crap over 25 years of use but free software changed all of that. I remember when 20MB seemed impossible to fill up. It was hard to do with nothing but text files but indeed adding a few games, AOL and a hand held scanner to a IBM XT clone cramped me for space. Then I remember when the 540 MB hard drive seemed like a vast space for text and images on a 486 box. It easily fit my old DOS stuff but then came Windows 95 and finally someone did me the "favor" of loaning me a copy of M$ Office so I could work with them and two 540MB drives was not enough. The same kind of cycle repeated itself with the next computer and a 5GB drive. Sooner than later it was filled with binary crap, starting with Windows 98. XP would have been impossible to run on the hardware and that's where I got off the treadmill. The same equipment has lasted to this day and was only replaced when I felt like having real hardware upgrades. Some of it, like a ten year old thinkpad, is still useful. It's also true that free software network storage has made it easier to get to the things I care about and drastically reduced my overall storage needs that way. Today, 500GB is way more than I need for my music and movies and I'll be able to buy a deeply discounted multi TB drive in a year or two when I feel pinched again.

    It's easier to ride the backside of the upgrade wave than to be pushed and crushed in front of it.

  • Redundant data (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @10:49AM (#23171660)

    all those drives amounted to 79 million terabytes of capacity, enough for 158 billion hours of digital video or 1.2 trillion hours of MP3 songs.
    This just made me realize how much redundent data there is in the world. Think about just how many copies of some media there are and imagine what could be saved if we could find a way to do highspeed, centralized, streaming server for multimedia. Yeah, you wouldn't be able to listen to your music everywhere you go, but does the world really need a million digital copies of the new Brittany Spears cd?
  • Re:Bad Sector (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @10:58AM (#23171760)
    It's also important to remember inflation. $1,500 in 1979 is over $4700 today, so the cost was more like $1K per megabyte.
  • Inflation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by skraps ( 650379 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @11:56AM (#23172584)

    Seagate's first drive, shipped in 1979 was the ST506, which had a capacity of 5MB and cost a cool $1,500[...]
    Adjusting for inflation, that is $4,718.83 in today's money.
  • Back in my day... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CaptDeuce ( 84529 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @12:10PM (#23172746) Journal

    ... we called a 5.25 hard drive a "mini-winnie" since the established 8 inch hard drive at that time was called a Winchester .

    Back then the two CP/M Z-80 "micro computers" at university lab where I did my class work used 8 inch floppies. Real floppy disk Users dismissed mini floppies not only because of it's paltry storage capacity but because some pinhead decided to reduce the disk rotation speed of the mini floppy by one half thus reducing its data transmission rate. At least that's how I remember it.

    Some other graybeard is gonna have to take over for me now cuz I gotta go chase some kids off my lawn...

  • Re:Bad Sector (Score:3, Interesting)

    by david.given ( 6740 ) <dg.cowlark@com> on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @12:28PM (#23173002) Homepage Journal

    And it had the passive backplane (which meant that the processor was on an ISA card and plugged into one slot, and the RAM was on another ISA card and plugged into another slot)!

    And the full-length HDD/FDD/serial port card (WTF?) had not just one but *two* monster ribbon cables connecting to the hard drives in order to achieve the staggering data throughput of, nearly, a megabyte a second! Beat that, SATA!

    Mine ended up getting skipped. I wish I'd known how much in demand they are now, I'd have kept it...

  • by Znork ( 31774 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @01:07PM (#23173514)
    I used to think storage lasted a fair while.

    Then came MythTV. You have no idea the levels of storage you can utilize for video recording if you're not that discriminating (and hey, all those companies saying content is valuable, it's like storing money! Well, ok, I just have issues with throwing stuff away... you never know...).

    Then we got MultiRec in Myth which allows you to record all channels on the same multiplex. 6 DVB tuners and you can record every channel transmitted... Imagine the archive! No need to even mark what to record anymore; just record it all and sort it out later. No checking what's on TV, no checking what the PVR has recorded, simply check what's been broadcast. Ever.

    So I no longer think storage lasts a fair while. I can see high utilization levels for my storage for at least several orders of magnitude. At least until copyright is reformed so one no longer needs to archive it all on ones own.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @01:46PM (#23173948) Homepage
    Man, I remember in the early 90's being given the manual for the ST506 drive controller so I could write the "bare metal" interface to actually write the drivers for an OS my prof was writing for his research work.

    Pretty cool shit, push bytes into a couple of registers to make the damned thing seek to a given track. Service the interrupt. Push in a couple of other bytes to cause a sector read. Service the interrupt. It didn't get any lower-level than that.

    We specifically avoided the Linux code at the time since we didn't want to GPL our code or use their implementation.

    Writing my own low-level device driver for accessing hard-drives was pretty cool. Before long, I had written a bunch of the simple UNIX command-tools for DOS -- ls, rm, cat, cp. Boot out the DOS handler, read the raw FAT data off the HD, format it, and interpret it.

    *sigh* Anyway, this is apropos to nothing. Just waxing nostalgic about a university project 20 odd years ago. It's all been downhill from then. :-P

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle