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Data Storage Technology

Is SSD Density About To Hit a Wall? 208

Zombie Puggle writes "Enterprise Storage Forum has an article contending that solid state disks will stay stuck at 20-25nm unless the materials and techniques used to design Flash drives changes, and soon. 'Anything smaller and the data protection and data corruption issues become so great that either the performance is abysmal, the data retention period doesn't meet JEDEC standards, or the cost increases. Though engineers are working on performance and density improvements via new technologies (they're also trying to drive costs down), these are fairly new techniques and are not likely to make it into devices for a while."
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Is SSD Density About To Hit a Wall?

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  • So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dcmoebius ( 1527443 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @07:10PM (#33622920)
    Improving upon current SSDs will require new technology! Isn't that sort of implied in the whole concept of, you know, progress?
  • by durrr ( 1316311 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @07:11PM (#33622926)
    The wall or plateu or whatever you prefer to call it of electronics progress is similar to the recurring doomsday predictions. It's always right around the corner, but it never happens.
    I guess we could liken it to fusion, strong AI, the second coming of Jesus and whatever else that generally is put in the belive it when see it folder.
  • Does it matter? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @07:13PM (#33622936) Homepage Journal

    It doesn't seem a big deal to me. I'd be more interested in seeing the prices drop and to have larger RAM caches.

  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @07:19PM (#33622968) Homepage Journal

    The wall or plateu or whatever you prefer to call it of electronics progress is similar to the recurring doomsday predictions. It's always right around the corner, but it never happens.

    It has to happen.

  • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @07:26PM (#33622994)

    Well, the density is already not bad, so the big key is to get the cost down! For larger applications of Flash memory(like over 250GB) I don't think the physical size is going to be a problem because it is competing with 3.5" and 2.5" hard drives.

    Aside from cost, there are plenty of other non-density things to work on: number of rewrite cycles, speed, reliability, etc. I can't wait for the day that spinning media eventually goes bye-bye.

  • Re:Does it matter? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @07:58PM (#33623130) Homepage Journal

    My laptop has a 128GB SSD which would be really cramped except I keep most my files on my NAS where it can be kept in RAID and be automatically backed up etc. Really the local drive should only be the files needed to boot and hook to the network and the rest used to cache the files you're most likely to need soon. As you said you can already get decent storage space in the usual form factors so it's not really a big deal if the drives can't get more dense. I dont really care if my NAS takes up a whole server rack. It's only a matter of time before the cloud handles most our storage anyway. Local storage is just to much hassle for most people anyway and why should we ever worry about a hard limit to how much space we have available?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:01PM (#33623144)

    This has to be a joke, right? Semiconductor cost is directly related to the size (amount) of silicon required, and the cost of flash memory is directly related to and by far the most expensive component of an SSD. It has nothing to do with the size of the packaging.

    Almost all price decreases for flash memory so far have come from feature size shrinks. The only other large decrease was the implementation of MLC, and that's only happened once so far. X3 and X4 cells have potential but also some pretty severe drawbacks at the moment, other improvements tend to be marginal rather than 50%+ cost decreases.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:02PM (#33623156)

    *sigh* why is everybody so excited about getting rid of spinning media? It's not that expensive (especially compared with SSDs), and with accelerometers, it pretty much makes up for the issues that are caused by its mechanical nature. I also haven't seen significant power savings from SSDs or significant improvements in computer performance with their use.

    I really don't understand the excitement about getting rid of a tried and true technology that still serves today's needs in an inexpensive and reliable manner.

    Adobe Flash, on the other hand, needs to go away ASAP.

  • by forkazoo ( 138186 ) <> on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:19PM (#33623248) Homepage

    Densities are fine. The main problem is lowering the cost. They need to drop the price by an order of magnitude. I am sure it costs way less than that to manufacture .. they just have to pay back all the research and equipment capital costs and build more production lines.

    Density = Cost

    The more bits per cm^2 of silicon, the less silicon you need to buy in order to store your stuff. When people talk about density, they aren't talking about the physical size of the consumer SSD product, they mean density of feature size on the silicon chips. It's expensive to refine, process, and manufacture super high end silicon. That's why flash tends to scale quite linearly with storage size in a way that mechanical drives never have. The price really is dominated in a large way by the amount of silicon, which dictates the number of bits. To drive down the price, put more bits on less silicon, and you have a winner.

    Other options, like figuring out how to use shittier silicon in cheaper fabs to drive down price are also worth some R+D, but density is the proven method for driving down the price.

  • by my $anity 0 ( 917519 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:44PM (#33623386)
    But, if the technology hits a brick wall, the fab won't need retooling because there will be no cutting edge technology, increasing the amount of years of useful life, and eventually lowering price. It's slower than the lowering by developing better tech, though, one would assume.
  • clouds mean rain (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:47PM (#33623398)

    Local storage is a lot cheaper and faster for most people in the USA, which is all I can speak of. Maybe over in Utopialand where everyone has 100 gig speed connections and hosting is pennies a day for terrabytes the "cloud" might be cheaper and better. Our domestic broadband speeds and prices are not even close to keeping up with increased local storage density and lowering prices for same. Saying the "cloud" will do everything is sorta naive, we have all the major ISPs talking about limits and caps now. This is 100% the WRONG time to be shifting to far away "cloud" storage for most people.

      I know I'll be keeping my movies and files handy right here, thanks. I just can't see storing multiple gig sized movies way over there someplace when it would cost me two cents to store it here and have it playback at fast streaming speeds for the cost of the electricity.

    Having to go pay yet again to watch your movie or access your own file..nope. The "cloud" is a marketing buzzword for companies that want to charge you serious coin for access to *your own files*.

  • Slow news day. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by twidarkling ( 1537077 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:48PM (#33623402)

    You know, stories like this used to interest me. Then I noticed that:
    a) they kept reoccurring, and
    b) had a common theme.

    Yeah, it's always "We're approaching a wall with what can be done with current technology, so it's going to either be more expensive, or need a new technique, yadda yadda." Tell you what. Lemme know when we *actually* hit the wall in ANY of these that they keep threatening us with a wall in making, SSD, HDD, CPU size, etc.

  • by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @10:36PM (#33623856)

    Size to a large extent is the cost.

    If they can fit twice as much product onto 1" square for the same price then you get an effective decrease in cost.

    The incremental costs of memory are somewhat linear. If size was of no concern then they could sell a 10TB drive for the same price if they just put more spindles into one drive. The cost is per spindle. So yes they could sell you a 10TB drive instead of a 1TB drive that was 10x as large physically, but it's going to cost 10x as much.

  • by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @10:46PM (#33623892) Journal
    most SSD units are laptop sized, the desktop kits are the same drive with a bracket. no reason you couldn't make huge SSD's on current tech that filled the space of a 3.5" drive bay, let alone a 5.25
  • by glwtta ( 532858 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @10:58PM (#33623940) Homepage
    Can you point to a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM or BD-ROM drive that can read my CD-ROMs faster than 72x?

    You're right, come to think of it, there haven't been any major advancements in the speed of floppy and ZIP drives, either!

    That was the the parent's point: instead of trying to spin CDs faster, we went to DVDs and then BDs (about 4 times faster than a 72X CD).

    How much faster are CPUs now?

    Considerably. While mostly not relying on increases in clock speed. That was the point.
  • by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Sunday September 19, 2010 @12:58AM (#33624814)
    194 GB/cc is about 8e10 atoms per bit, assuming 2 Angstrom atoms. Since it's going to be really difficult to store more than 1 bit per atom, that sets a hard limit of improvement at 8e10 times what's available today.
  • by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Sunday September 19, 2010 @02:39AM (#33625284)

    And that will be a replacement for what current technology exactly?

    And why does it have to be in use? In what kind of scenario would your storage device be in use, when it's falling four stories? And why would your biggest concern be "gee, I hope it won't stop working for the 2.3 seconds it takes to hit the ground, because I'll never get those precious seconds back" rather than "fuck, I dropped my laptop over the balcony!?

  • by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Sunday September 19, 2010 @10:16AM (#33627046)
    Wow. Thank fuck no one listens to you. I like progress.

VMS must die!