Storage will make the biggest impact of any technology in the 2010’s
Think I’m crazy? Think again.
Information and energy drive today’s world. The internet has re-invented life and work for the digitally enabled parts of the world, and the electrical grid and gas-powered transportation systems are what make our physical economy go round.
Batteries and bytes will change the world
Storage is the prime enabler of both of these infrastructures. And storage innovations for both will revolutionize both of these infrastructures over the next few years.
Energy storage is better known as fuel. Conventional energy media – coal and gas – are finally giving way (partly) to more efficient media. Notably, battery technology is at an inflection point, poised to transform automobiles and (yet again) information technology.
The U.S. government is even considering a Sematech-like consortium to collectively catch up on battery manufacturing capability.
Information storage is also going through a media transition. Solid state flash is finally ready to stand with disk drives and tape. In the next decade, the new storage media ecosystem will transform personal and business computing in ways we can’t even know today.
Information doesn’t get the headlines that software or processors or networking does, but none of these technologies would be usable without today’s storage technology. More than ever before, information is the mother of all technology, and storage is where that information resides.
If there was any doubt that Intel sees a future for flash off of the motherboard, their deal with HGST has put them to rest. Hitachi will market SSDs based on Intel’s flash technology.
This is a vote for SSDs in the Enterprise, where the benefits of flash can be fully realized. It is also a tacit endorsement of the integration value storage device makers bring to SSD products.
Solid state drives shine in the company of disk drives
SSDs are crazy fast but very expensive. Compared to SSDs, disk drives seem slow – but are very affordable. Which should you use?
Digitar’s experience shows the magic of blending the two technologies in an enterprise system. System speed resembles the SSD, while system cost looks more like the disk drive. Processing cost dropped from $6 per IOPS for disk only to $1 per IOPS in their blended system.
A little flash thoughtfully placed goes a long way.
SSDs will be an almost ideal addition to enterprise storage systems. Notebooks? Not so much.
1. Many drives vs. one drive. SSDs replace multiple disk drives in high-end enterprise systems. Notebooks use SSDs as a one-for-one replacement, which wastes most of the game-changing advantages of flash.
2. Servers need speed, notebooks need capacity. Servers can use SSD’s blazing performance without requiring much capacity. SSD performance matters little to a notebook, but hundreds of gigabytes are needed per drive. SSDs biggest weakness is cost per gigabyte.
3. SSD power consumption matters more to the enterprise. Notebooks care about power, but the drive’s share of a notebook’s power draw doesn’t make that much difference in battery life. High-end enterprise systems have a heat problem from multiple drives in a small space that SSD will help to alleviate.
4. Notebooks don’t leverage SSD speed. A notebook’s boot time and performance depend on many factors beyond access time. High-end systems use many drives striped in parallel to maximize performance – a perfect opportunity for a much faster device.
Even in Enterprise, the devil is in the details
So let’s go, right? Not so fast, cowboy! One way SSD is less suited for the data center than notebooks is in durability. Unlike notebooks, high-end systems work storage devices like dogs. SSDs are improving, but today’s products can wear out before their time. Losing data in a notebook doesn’t compare with losing it in a high-end business application. And standards are a bigger deal in the data center.
Ready-for-prime-time versions will be available starting in 2009. In the meantime, it’s smart to start playing with the technology now so you’re ready to implement in volume next year.
Buy a fancy SSD notebook, too, if you’re a Techie or want to act like one. If not, it’s probably a waste of your money.
Posted in Datacenter, Laptop PC, SSD
Tagged battery life, disk drive, enterprise, Flash, laptop, notebook, performance, power, SSD, storage
SSD sounds great, but the reality doesn’t match the dream
Solid State Technology talked to Seagate and Fujitsu SSD leaders and came to the same conclusions posted here before – SSDs for notebooks may sound like a great match, but it’s just not happening.
Why? Price – big difference! Boot time and battery life – little to no difference.
Yes, there are small opportunities for ultra-high end early adopters and ultra-portable mini-PCs. But the total opportunity for SSDs over the next several years will be miniscule compared to disk drives.
Enterprise is a larger and more profitable niche for SSDs – but even there the opportunity is at the tip of the storage iceberg that will remain dominated by disk.
Any SSD users out there that disagree?
Seagate’s CEO Bill Watkins and Marketing SVP Pat King on the Wild West of storage
Chris Meilor listened in as Seagate CEO Bill Watkins and Marketing SVP Pat King talked about Seagate’s plans for home NAS, SSD, hybrid storage and more at a recent press event. It’s a good read – check it out here.
Chris refers to the consumer storage market as the Wild West, but that moniker could easily be used to describe the storage market in general. Dramatic change is underway across the spectrum, from the largest corporations overwhelmed with petabyte growth and data on the loose to the Dawning of the Digital Consumer.
The storage industry is exciting (and always has been) for those who work in it. It’s becoming more relevant and entertaining to those outside of the industry as content and its storage matter like never before.
Posted in Datacenter, Digital Home, Industry trends, Laptop PC, Storage Systems
Tagged Bill Watkins, CEO, Chris Melior, home NAS, home storage, Hybrid, Pat King, Seagate, SSD, storage, The Register
Storage devices have a higher calling than processors or memory chips
In the 90’s I was a semiconductor guy. I worked in some of the highest tech chip fabs in Korea, Taiwan, Japan and the US as we deployed lithography equipment. One of those cleanrooms was at Seagate.
Why? Because since the mid-90’s, disk drive read/write heads have been manufactured with semiconductor-like processes. These heads are arguably the most enabling component in a disk drive. There are from one to ten of these chips in every disk drive manufactured today. So solid state technology isn’t unfamiliar to those in the disk drive world.
So why are SSD’s so slow to replace disk drives? Read/write heads, like memory chips and processors, are information “middlemen”. It’s one thing to have data pass through a chip. It’s quite another to store it there indefinitely.
Stewards of the Data
Storage devices have a higher calling than processors, temporary memory and sensors: they are the stewards of the Data – the all-important lifeblood of every business and the content that entertains us.
Disk drives have earned the right to play this role. Solid state technology has some growing up to do before it is knighted the Keeper of the Data.