Can Flash Crash The Hard Drive Business?

from the well,-this-should-be-fun dept

While Apple may have eaten up some huge percentage of the world's flash memory market in building the ever-so-delicate iPod Nano, it's got some wondering whether or not flash drives can eventually replace hard drives. That, not surprisingly, has hard drive makers in full on response mode, such as this interview with Seagate's CEO, where he insists that flash memory still doesn't have the access speeds necessary to match hard drive performance. He also points out the price advantages to hard drives. What's most interesting, though, is that he doesn't seem all that interested in challenging the idea that hard drives will remain much larger than flash memory. That seems to be the easiest point of attack, since hard drives have consistently been able to stay ahead of flash growth and flash memory chips are still significantly smaller than most hard drives. That certainly suggests that the claims of flash makers that they're getting closer to much larger offerings have some substance. He admits that power consumption is an issue (flash does much better than hard drives), but seems to believe that people don't care as much about it... which seems to actually go against what most people are saying. Either way, it seems clear that the question of flash memory is a big enough concern that hard drive makers are feeling the pressure to respond.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 11:21am

    No Subject Given

    Simply put, a specific memory location on flash cannot be re-written to as many times as a sector on a hard drive before failing.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 11:26am

    limited writes

    that is hardly the case anymore. modern flash storage can be written hundreds of thousands of times before "wearing out", and the onboard controllers are supposed to monitor the sectors and dynamically re-route data to good sectors... AFAIK

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    AZ, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 11:31am

    Flash drives

    Flash drives are getting better. They have there ups and downs like hard drives. Unlike hard drives for MP3 players Flash drives do not skip no matter what I read. If you shake a hard drive while in use it can skip. I think flash could be the next big thing. Its great for cell phone hard drives since flash can be made so small.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Joe, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 12:07pm

    No Use For RAM

    If we go to Flash; then we will no longer need RAM. The purpose of RAM is because Hard Drives take too long; so we would get rid of two types of computer hardware, which would speed things up alot.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    ruok, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 12:31pm

    vaporware... or the future

    what about http://atomchip.com/_wsn/page4.html claims that they have a 2-Tb computer that doesnt use a HD? It seems that there are companies that are working past the current flash limitations

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 12:36pm

    Re: No Use For RAM

    Flash has nowhere near the access speeds of RAM...Not your standard flash found in MP3 players at any rate...

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Lovemetal, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 12:36pm

    Re: No Use For RAM

    Not quite. RAM is much faster than Flash can hope to be for a long time. Kind of like why the CEO of Seagate said Hard Drives were faster than flash memory... RCP.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 12:56pm

    Re: vaporware... or the future

    You do realize this is totally fake. You CANNOT have 2TB of RAM.

    MS website: The maximum amount of memory that can be supported on Windows XP Professional and Windows Server 2003 is 4 GB.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Hmmm, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 1:14pm

    Re: vaporware... or the future

    Umm, yeah. I that particular instance it would be used as a storage (read HDD or array) replacement, not RAM.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 1:18pm

    No Subject Given

    One way of looking at this is to consider the "memory hierarchy".
    This is an arrangement of memory technologies based on their
    speed vs capacity (or, if you like, speed vs cost).
    This goes something like CPU registers (fastest, least capacity),
    CPU cache, motherboard ram, disk, tape, (slowest, most capacity).
    Right now, flash memories has its place in between ram and disk.
    Things change if we start seeing flash memories offering capacities
    comparable to hard drives...
    -cmh

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 1:25pm

    No Subject Given

    I'm sick of flash. I wish websites would stop using it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    ruok, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 3:11pm

    Re: vaporware... or the future

    4GB of RAM is a 32-bit OS limitation. 64 bit can handle more, per MS its 1 TB on win2003 enterprise,
    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/64bit/x64/enterprise.mspx

    but yes, it smells like vaporware... thus the subject line.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Griffon, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 3:16pm

    Sweet silence

    Flash is also very quite, HD's are one the noiser computer parts and generate a fair amount of heat.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Jason, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 3:22pm

    Re: vaporware... or the future

    Because, of course, MS is the ONLY provider of operating systems that exists...

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    ruok, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 3:25pm

    Re: vaporware... or the future

    btw, the addressable RAM limitation is
    2^32 = 4,294,967,296 OR 4GB
    2^64 = 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 OR 18 Exabytes

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Pundit, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 5:23pm

    Uh, no!

    How does 2GB flash compare with 250GB hard drive at the same price?

    You'd have to have:
    - a slow down in user consumption of space
    - a premium for reduced physical size, durability and/or noise

    I think those are both quite a ways off. It will happen, naturally, but it will take a change to wearable computing (and I'm not talking cell phones here), and also a topping out of the storage needs for a user.

    I don't think hard drive manufacturers have any sleep to lose, and I think people who are hyping flash memory right now probably have ulterior motives.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Matt, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 5:43pm

    Re: vaporware... or the future

    this is correct. There are even patches for the 32 bit version that allow more than 4 GB of ram...I don't remember what is involved, but someone had to do it for 2 TB of ram. I know even 32 bit linux kernels allow that.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Faust, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 8:37pm

    Re: vaporware... or the future

    Depends which version of Windows 2003.
    The Enterprise Edition supports 32GB on 32bit systems (via PAE/PSE36) and the DataCenter Edition supports 64GB.
    The 64bit versions probably support more.
    Even the 64bit Edition of XP supports 8GB.
    Of course, these are arbitrarily imposed limits, with hardware capable of supporting more -- and Linux, FreeBSD, etc. can generally support whatever the CPU itself can support.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Muzzin, Sep 27th, 2005 @ 8:54pm

    Re: Uh, no!

    Right now the top flash drives I.e. Ultra 3 SD cards from Sandisk, etc. run at 150x which translates to something like 24 to 30 MB/s. These use the fastest available 'single layer' NAND memory (as I've recently read). Since a WD Raptor hard drive can stream well in excess of 65 MB/s .....it's still not close.
    2GB of flash drive is now $125 or $60 per GB. WD Raptor is 74GB for $200, or $1.5 per GB. The Raptor uses 8 watts in full run mode and about 1 to 1.5 watts in standby. Flash drives have to use a lot less, not sure how much, probably fractions of a watt. So, if RAM is faster than hard drives by a factor of about 1000 then RAM is 2000 times faster than the fastest flash drives. The best application for flash at this time is to augment hard drives which they are doing just now for notebooks etc. This is to reduce HD spin up times and power consumption. Hard drives will shortly be relagated to the equivalent of tape drives in the 1990s. The next use of flash will be to insta-boot the OS out of standby (something allegedly that can be done on the hybrid drives), which in the case of flash will be the normal mode more or less.
    Expect to see a quick influx of hybrid hard drives for portable devices. And expect to see a massive influx of flash media in 3G cellular devices and portable entertainment devices i.e. m4a players.
    Go SD cards, go m4a!!! Both are cheaper and better than the their competition.
    -Fred M.
    BSME, MEMS, Geek

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    arvind, Sep 28th, 2005 @ 5:14am

    hard vs flash drives

    Why even compare hard drives against flash drives? It'll be better if Seagate embraces the new technology as it happens. One good example in recent times would be Kodak - how they accepted the digital technology & started making digicams instead of crowing the advantages of conventional filmroll photography.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2006 @ 8:38pm

    Re: limited writes

    samsungs new 32gb drive is guaranteed for 100000 rewrites

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    david, Apr 23rd, 2007 @ 4:11am

    kodak! what a joke.

    kodak are rubbish they steal peoples images and use them when they produce them.

    come on poor quality american products.

    as normal all show and no go.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Bob Hill, May 11th, 2007 @ 8:51am

    GO FLASH!

    moving hard drives are old news. Hard drive makers should just accept that and jump on the solid-state bandwagon.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Chetanji, Jan 13th, 2008 @ 10:51pm

    There will not in this lifetime be Re: No Use For

    Memory and the CPU with it's super-fast L2 cache on chip are ever the working pair that make a PC work. This will not change in theory for decades. What this blog is about is Flash drives versus Hard Drive Technology.
    Don't get confused with other ideas.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Chetanji, Jan 13th, 2008 @ 11:01pm

    Re: Re: vaporware... or the future

    To quote you is to embarrass you, for MS was not the first and certainly will not be the last OS ever programmed for the PC.
    There are many other high quality OS that are far more secure and robust than MS will probably ever be. This is much closer to the truth. UNIX and later Linux are far superior to MS in most ways. This is not debatable, I am talking about the quality of code, and not about the pretty, pretty GUI which is for looks only and the experienced programmers are rarely involved in the GUI's look.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Chetanji, Jan 13th, 2008 @ 11:03pm

    Re: Sweet silence

    ...and guaranteed to part failure eventually where there are no moving parts in flash.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    james braselton, Mar 17th, 2009 @ 2:06pm

    FLASH WILL END THE HARD DRIVE BUSSNIESS

    HI THERE WILL THERE ARE TOO MANY HARD CORE GAMERS WANT PURE RAW SPEED SOO UNLESS THERE GOING TOO RELEASE THERE PRTOTYPE 20,000 RPM OR LASER HARD DRIVES FLASH WILL END THE HARD DRIVE BUSSNESS CURENT HARD DRIVES LOAD TIMES TAKES FOREVER TOO LOAD GAMES TOO BAD HARD DRIVE COMPANIES WONT PUT THERE 10,000 OR 15,000 RPM HARD DRIVES IN THE PS4 OR X-BOX 720 THAT WOULD HELP THE HARD DRIVE BUSSNIESS OUT TRIPPLE 10,000 RPM RAPTORS THATS 3 10,000 RPM HARD DRIVES

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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