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No Cheap Replacement For Hard Disks Before 2020 346

siddesu writes with disappointing news to anyone who'd like to see solid-state storage dominate in the near-term future. "A new study of storage technology by the former CTO of Seagate predicts that hard disks will remain the cheapest storage technology in the next decade and probably beyond."
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No Cheap Replacement For Hard Disks Before 2020

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  • 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.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:02PM (#29859651) Journal
    Well, the breakthrough is PCRAM, which is almost as fast as DRAM but non-volatile and rewritable per byte, unlike Flash, which needs (relatively large) cells to be deleted. Samsung are already producing 64MB PCRAM modules, but you can expect the capacities to increase quickly.
  • 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:Very old article (Score:2, Informative)

    by Suiggy ( 1544213 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:11PM (#29859723)
    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.
  • Re:Very old article (Score:3, Informative)

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:25PM (#29859843) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • Re:Define 'cheapest' (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:26PM (#29859859) Journal

    Who the HELL runs at 10% of the capacity?

    Most of the non-geeks I know have under 10GB of data. They have cheap digital cameras that produce images in the 1-2MB range, so they don't take up much space, and they don't record video. Most of these people are in the 20-30 age bracket. And most of the 'Internet generation' don't bother storing stuff from the 'net. Why bother, when you can just download it again if you want it?

  • 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.

  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @06:35PM (#29860383)

    Tri- and Quad-state MLC NAND is basically DOA. The reliability of Two-bit-per-cell NAND is plummeting with each litho revision as fewer and fewer electrons are available for noting the state. As it stands, they're piling on more and more ECC to account for the incredibly bad quality of NAND as it is.

  • 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 BikeHelmet ( 1437881 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @08:28PM (#29861043) Journal

    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 can ramp up the cache to have very awesome performance.

    There was an asian company that created a 3.5" hybrid HDD. It was a 2.5" 5400RPM drive with 1GB of DDR cache, and onboard power backup. That was a few years ago - it had a sustained write of around 145MB/sec, maxing out SATA1.

    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)

    HDD manufacturers aren't backed into a corner yet...

  • Re:Fragmentation (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 24, 2009 @11:18PM (#29861939)

    You do not defragment an SSD. Ever. Not only does it potentially wear the disk out, it has no performance benefit anyway, and the idea that your files are now defragmented is an illusion anyway, since SSD controllers do not write files in contiguous blocks. Fragmentation hardly hurts SSDs at all, as long as you have decent read-ahead (which all current OSes do), and NCQ (which all current OSes and SSDs do).

  • 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

    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 dlenmn ( 145080 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @11:43PM (#29862069)

    I wouldn't exactly call PCRAM a breakthrough -- people have been working on it since the 1960s []. There are a host of new non-volatile memory technologies that claim to be read for prime time Real Soon Now. Just look at the list of upcoming non-volatile memory technologies in the right column at the wikipedia article []. You can't go out and buy most of them yet, but any of them could be winners (besides PCRAM, MRAM is available from Everspin/freescale [] -- you can buy some on DigiKey if you want).

    I wouldn't hold my breath for any of these to replace hard drives, they've been a long time in coming and they're still not really here yet. Hopefully by 2020.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jez9999 ( 618189 ) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @06:42AM (#29863367) Homepage Journal

    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 (if you can find one) vs on an LCD and you'll see what I mean. It's virtually unplayable on the latter.

    *sheds a tear for the fall of CRTs*

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