* Posts by J. Eckerman

4 posts • joined 2 Oct 2010

Western Digital gearing up to sell 3TB drives

J. Eckerman

Old School

I may be showing my age but I was taught to conserve space, clean up your old data and take out the trash. My problem with 2TB, 3TB, 10TB.......??? is very simple. It is on a mechanical device in a magnetic format that has a tendency to "age" with the magnetic domains interfering with each other over a long term and to "crash" as in the head physically scraping the data off the disk surface. Therefore, unless refreshed annually (?) it in not a good long term storage solution and for short term storage, how much data do I trust to a single mechanical device? This would then imply that I need several units to make sure that all of my data is safe from a crash. The problem with these large sizes and bulk storage is the time it takes for backups and updates and now I have to make several copies.

The drive industry is talking 10X and 100X the current capacities. No thanks. That’s OK for large projects but normal applications I would rather keep my data in smaller segments for easier backup. The only real value to me, other than special applications, is that making drives bigger means the cost of the smaller ones drops. Please go buy the 3TB units. With 5 platters and 10 heads, this means that there is 600GB on the single platter dual head version and although the cost won’t be one fifth, it will be substantially lower and much less susceptible to crashing.

Size is for power geeks. I want to hear how this impacts the low end cost.

The last storage array you will buy

J. Eckerman

More Moore's Law

Actually Gordon predicted a doubling EVERY YEAR, "for the next ten years" back in the mid-60's. I have witnessed the "Law" being stretched to 18 months and now 24 months depending on the whim of the author. Perhaps it is time that we return to the original prediction but state it as 18 months = Moore's Law 1.5 and 24 months = Moore's Law 2.0, etc., etc. At least that will give us a benchmark rather than leaving it to how the writer feels at the time.

J. Eckerman

Disks are dead (but not just yet)

Having worked in the disk industry for over 40 years I am a dedicated believer that disks are the low cost storage. It is all about cost per bit. (That shows my age - how about cost per G?). The connection issue could be addressed with either technology, solid state or mechanical drive. The problem is not the lowering cost of the IC, the problem is that the disk technology is at a cross-roads. The magnetic bit is so small that the old mechanical methods of staying on track, including the improved embedded servo techniques, double actuator heads, etc. need the next major technological step to increase density. The current disk industry argument is - should they move to HAMR (a Seagate term for Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording) or should they move to a "patterned media". Both are being explored by WD, Seagate, HGST, Toshiba, Samsung, etc. It currently appears that "patterned media" is winning the technology fight (several forms but for this comment, track or bit pattern does not matter).

What does matter is that the disk industry, in the implementation of the new technique will have to adapt semiconductor lithography techniques and that is disastrous news. Disks are produced by the millions at an extremely low cost per unit. Density increases are made in steps. First the head then the media then the channel then the servo, and around you go. When the disk companies are forced to adapt semiconductor techniques the density jumps will be made just as they are in semiconductors and the costs will sky-rocket. Each generation will require a new lithography and a complete development, no more incremental improvements.

As the disk production costs move up and the semiconductor costs move down we will see a tipping point in the famous "cost per (insert favorite memory unit)" equation and semiconductors will replace spinning disks. The LOL factor is - just as predicted back in 1970.

J. Eckerman

Cost, cost, cost

With 500GB manufactured for less than $10 and installed in a computer readable device (ther drive) for less than $40, they are far from dead. But several plus a controller chip and put a TB on your own board for $100 and then go buy a TB of solid state. The drive is just a fancy chip with some stuff inside. They could put it in an IC package for all I care.


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