It looks like the days are numbered for traditional hard drives as SanDisk has launched their first 32GB Flash RAM based HD:
The 32GB SanDisk SSD UATA 5000 is only a 1.8” form-factor drive, but it has mighty impressive specifications despite its size: 62MB/sec sustained throughput, 0.12ms average access time, and it draws only 0.4 watts. This means that the SanDisk SSD has an average access time that is more than 100 times faster than any notebook hard drive, and it draws 50 to 87 percent less power than most notebook hard drives. While its sustained throughput is roughly on par with most notebooks, it should be noted that the throughput is the same regardless of whether it is reading at the beginning or the end of the drive. (Hard disks typically have higher throughput rates on their outer tracks and slower throughput rates on their inner tracks.) In addition, everything is solid-state, so there are no moving parts. Even if you are the type to drop or bang your laptop around on a regular basis, there are no hard disk heads to crash into spinning platters.
Although flash memory can be known to eventually “wear out” due to writing to the same area repeatedly, modern flash memory controllers have automatic “wear-leveling” to ensure longevity of the device by making sure that sectors are being written to evenly and bad sectors are dynamically remapped to good ones. According to SanDisk, the SSD UATA 5000 is rated at “two million hours mean time between failure (MTBF).”
Granted it’s only 32GBs at this point when most folks are used to having between 80 and 200GBs on their laptops and desktops these days, but it’s a start and that’s what is important. SanDisk’s offering joins two others recently announced by Samsung and TDK and it’s the cheaper of the three at $600, which is still high compared to traditional hard drives, but if it follows the same trends as USB thumb drives have then it’ll be cheap as hell within a year or two’s time. My 512MB thumb drive that I got two years ago for $75 can be bought today for $9.99. The current ETA for consumer priced drives of this sort is within three to five years, but I’d be surprised if it took even that long if these things catch on in the business world.
Meanwhile Hitachi reminds us that it’s probably premature to be predicting the death of traditional hard drives anytime soon with the release of its brand spanking new Deskstar 7K1000 1TB hard drive:
Thanks to perpendicular recording and the average consumers’ voracious appetite for
porntotally legitimate data, Hitachi’s new $400 drives—available in SATA II or PATA 133 varieties, with differing speed modes, a 32MB buffer, quieting accoustics, SMART, and a 7200rpm spindle speed—will hit the market running in Q1 of this year. Also announced: the CinemaStar 7K1000, a DVR-centric drive due in Q2 which wasn’t fully detailed, but apparently has “adaptive error recovery”, “Smooth Stream Technology to optimize the drive for audio/video applications requiring reliable storage”, and other buzzy sounding stuff which just seems a lot like regular old drive features. We’ll assume it’s better tuned for high-throughput read / write performance, and leave it at that.
I can remember when discussing the idea of having 1 Terabyte of data (1,024 Gigabytes or 1,048,576 Megabytes or 1,073,741,824 bytes for those of you keeping count) on your home PC was something silly to even think about. Hell, my old Amiga 3000 only has a 320MB hard drive in it and back in the day I owned no less than three different computers (Commodore 64, Commodore 128, Amiga 1000) before ever getting to one with an actual hard drive in it. I can recall how geeked I was when a friend loaned me a 1 Gigabyte hard drive to use with my Amiga 2000 to run my BBS on for awhile. The scary thing is I can actually envision uses for a 1 Terabyte hard drive, especially in a TiVo like device. Funny, though, I always thought optical devices would end up breaking the 1TB barrier first.
OK, that’s enough of a gadget geek fest for the moment.