back to article Hm, disk drive maker, what's that smell lingering around you?

The disk drive vendors have been utterly screwed by mismanaging the disruptive force of solid state drives: that's the view of Mike Shapiro - lately a storage bigshot at Sun and Oracle. Mike Shapiro was a Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer, CTO, and VP of Storage for Sun and then Oracle. He is most recently a founder at a …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Matt Bryant Silver badge


    Whilst I suspect a former Sun employee would know the stink of death and failure very well, I'm not so sure the spinning rust vendors are as dead as Shapiro seems to think. Seagate in particular has the muscle of Samsung behind them. I'm also not convinced with the focus on the hyperscale customers as there are so few of them compared to the average Joe companies that make up the bulk of the storage market. And 2.5in is not dead at all, it seems to be replacing 3.5in disk format with the real game changer being the shift to commodity-based array headers in multiples rather than pairs.

    My prediction - Shapiro and co will soon be announcing yet another "me-too" all-flash array, and hopes he can talk spinning rust to death. Which is neatly ignoring the fact that tiering of data is still keeping even dead-slow-but-big-capacity-and-cheap SATA disks alive and healthy.

    1. Skoorb

      Re: Hmmmm.

      Yup. Even now, how is that whole "tape is dead" thing going? And that's for an extremely limiting medium that can't even do random reads and writes. It's going to be a while before disk dies off.

      2.5" is finally taking off now that Perpendicular recording has settled down properly.

      (For more fun, there's also this).

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    For some its all about access time / MB

    for others its all about $/GB (or perhaps $/TB.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Haku

      Re: the short term future is hybrid, no?

      "Maybe I've missed something obvious, but where are the enterprise grade hybrid drives?"

      Klingons stole them...

  4. Michael Habel

    In the fantasy relm of Corporate __________

    This Article make sense, but One would think that the like of Seagate, HGST & WD would be making their Bread & Butter in the White-Box OEM / OTC Market to Retail. So in the real World a what are we up to know? 960Gib? SSD would set ya back by about the same amount as Two, Four Terabyte HDDs?

    Long term storage may not be everyone's Tea here, and sure SDDs can have their place too, but Prices need to come down to their HDD equivalents. OR LOWER! before (the like above), would begin to take further notice in this Tech. But then perhaps I just have different storage needs then those of who'd likely down vote this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In the fantasy relm of Corporate __________

      "Prices need to come down to their HDD equivalents"

      Why? You go on to say you have different storage needs to others. Currently SSD offers significant performance advantages for which people will pay, and it is a simple speed/cost decision, with a side order of track record and durability considerations. On current technology, getting the cost down involves reduced fabrication size, and that eats into NAND endurance (and retention after the write endurance is reached), so if it gets cheaper it still won't offer you the long term storage you want.

      1. nerdbert

        Re: In the fantasy relm of Corporate __________

        You're also forgetting that NAND will soon stop scaling. It simply can't scale past about 20nm since it has to be a planar process and the shrink keeps decreasing the number of electrons stored. In 22nm you're talking about trying to store 200 or so electrons over PVT and the half life of the cell storage is getting into the realm of months, much less considering the decreased lifetime wear. 20nm flash is _hard_ to get working well.

        The technology of NAND just doesn't scale well. It's likely that other technologies will come to replace it, but they're not available yet. So predicting the end of "spinning rust" due to NAND just by past performance ignores the technology roadmap and physics. Spinning rust is losing its share of the market, but there's still some doubt about what can replace it.

  5. Peter Clarke 1


    Been hearing reports of early failure of SSDs- they just fail with no warning as well. Just a bad batch? I've not yet heard of any method of data recovery from a failed SSD. I'm not ready to write off SATAs just yet

    1. Steven Davison

      Re: Reliability??

      just for clarification,

      Do you mean Hard Disk drives ("spinning rust"), rather than SATA?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reliability??

      We use Intel drives throughout our organization with 1000's of PCs.

      Been using them 2 or 3 years now. Never had a single failure.

      Check your manufacturer.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Reliability??

        Give it a year, you'll start to see them.

        SSDs don't give the kinds of warnings you're used to, they go immediately from "tickety-boo" to "ex-data" without any real indication of upcoming problems.

        Many have a five-year rating under 'common usage', so you're still early in the bell curve.

    3. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Reliability??

      Sorry, I've had spinning rust drives die just as dramatically. I've had a Western Digital die when I put my glasses on the external case. I've had several Western Digital and a Seagate just refuse to do anything except spin up.

      For the obvious reasons I do cold backups of my system on the 1st & 15th of the month, and I've no problem taking my chances with SSD. They can't be any worse.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I find it hard to believe that SAS drive makers have not done two things, the first is make more affordable SSD drives and 2 they haven't made 15K drives larger than 600GB still. Bulk SATA storage is all very well and good until your in the performances vs capacity hole of being an SME we have at the moment

  7. gap

    Spinning rust will die

    One of the biggest challenges facing spinning rust is actually the transfer rates. The enormous and ever increasing amounts of data stored is outpacing the ability to get the data off the drives. This is due to the physical limitations of the rotation rate. 10K+ RPM disks are not particularly great due to heat and energy considerations and are likely to face a decline to be superseded by SSD's. Consider the amount of time it takes to backup/restore/resync a multi-TB drive. While people forecasted the death of tape, transfer rates and capacities have kept pace and I suspect they will continue to. The other factor that will have an impact is actually communications speeds. Cloud services not only allow global access to data, they also provide the ability to deduplicate data, while user end SSD's will effectively function as a layer of caching. The backend storage will need to perform better than what traditional rotating disks can provide, hence SSD.

    1. Gordan

      Re: Spinning rust will die

      It's not the transfer rate - it's the average access time, fundamentally dictated by the spindle speed, which fundamentally dictates the number of operations per second you can do. On a 7200 rpm disk, you can only do 120 IOPS.

      If you do the maths, you can infer from this that to read all the sectors (assuming 512 byte) in random (i.e. non-sequential) order on a 1TB disk would take more than 188 days. If the sectors are 4KB, the figure goes down to "only" a little under 24 days. Quadruple for a 4TB disk. Suffice to say for anything but bulk sequential access (e.g. one's movie collection transferred to NAS because DVDs were taking up too much shelf space), spinning rust simply isn't a sensible solution purely based on performance. And that is before we get into the issues of reliability.

      Reliability-wise, my maths says that with consumer grade 4TB disks, anything less than 4-disk RAID6 is a liability unless the data is worthless or something like a paranoia-mandated tertiary backup the loss of which doesn't really affect anything important.

  8. Nate Amsden

    immature tech

    it's taken flash quite a long while to mature. I'm not surprised Seagate and others haven't jumped in - they haven't needed to. Most of the flash guys pitching raw hardware are not rolling in cash, and the rest of the flash folks make all their money off of software.

    Enterprise storage arrays also could not properly leverage flash (I'd argue that most of them still can't even now) the controllers are not powerful enough to push the millions of IOPS that flash is capable of doing.

    There also seems to be a lacking of flash standards and more importantly performance metrics. You can take a 15K RPM disk from vendor A and compare it to vendor Y it will be similar. Flash there seems to be a thousand different configurations and everyone is making grand claims and nobody is backing them up.

    Cost has been high as well, the only cheap flash is shit flash. Well there is some middle ground but again really needs software layers above to smooth it out - something the HD vendors have never really done, and I wouldn't expect them to get into that business because they'd be competing with their customers. El Reg had a good article about Xiotech's technology a few years back and how many big OEMs threatened Seagate they would stop buying disks if Seagate went to market with it directly.

    Sounds like this Sun guy more than anything is tired of waiting around for dirt cheap high reliability flash and was hoping the big guys would jump in and scale things out to lower the cost.

  9. Fazal Majid

    Not surprising

    The book "The Innovator's Dilemma" by Clayton Christensen, which describes how incumbents get disrupted even though they know it's coming, was based on case studies from the hard drive industry.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like