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.


Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Can Flash Crash The Hard Drive Business?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
27 Comments
Chetanji says:

Re: 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.

Faust says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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

Pundit says:

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.

Muzzin says:

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

james braselton says:

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

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...