Saturday, April 20, 2024

Will Solid State Kill Hard Drives?

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Mechanical hard drives with spinning disks are doomed to extinction, thanks to solid state flash drives that are becoming cheaper and offering greater capacity by the month. At least that’s how some in the data storage industry see it.

Outwardly, there’s a convincing logic to this argument, especially when you consider what’s happened in other markets where devices with moving parts faced competition from solid state electronics. Televisions, telephony and radio equipment, clocks, automobile ignition … the list is endless, and in every case it’s ended up with the same result: solid state electronic devices have won because they are cheaper to make, more reliable, and offer similar or (usually) superior performance.

So when it comes to storage planning, it’s sensible to at least consider when flash-based solid state drives (SSDs) might take over from conventional hard disk drives (HDDs). Right now, SSDs are significantly more expensive per gigabyte than HDDs, and while they offer very fast read speeds, they suffer from slower write speeds, and from the limited number of times flash cells can be written to before they wear out.

But flash memory prices are falling rapidly, perhaps by 50 percent to 60 percent a year, and SSD technology is also improving, so write speeds are likely to increase and memory wear-out is likely to become less of a problem. For example, companies such as California-based SandForce promise technology innovations that will ensure flash cells effectively last 80 times longer than is common now, with write speeds far closer to levels achievable for reads.

Read the rest at Enterprise Storage Forum.

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