[OCN] Rethinking Hard Drives and Storage

July 21, 2008 § 4 Comments

In this post, I explore how hard drive makers have spent too much time and effort making drives only bigger and faster, and not thinking about making more products tailored to what the consumer needs, and how there are many segments that are still open to whoever wants to take them.

The hardware industry in itself is constantly changing, but one sector that has particularly evolved over the years is the disk storage sector. Nowadays, everybody from hardcore enthusiasts like we OCN-ers to our formerly computer illiterate grandparents are now juggling around with voluminous files, music, movies, and large collections of high-resolution digital pictures, so the overall demand for bigger, faster drives just keeps growing.

Hitachi, Seagate, Western Digital and all the other hard drives giants are well aware of this trend, and thanks to ferocious competition amongst themselves, great milestones have been reached. A terabyte of raw storage is now something that pretty much any willing person can afford, redundant and stripped storage via RAID is now within everybody’s reach thanks to integration to many chipset solutions (think P35+ICH9R and later, nearly all Nvidia chipsets since the 5 series), drives are quieter, faster and more energy efficient than ever before, and most importantly, cost per gigabyte is rock bottom, below 0.20$/GB in many cases.

All this progress has me thrilled, however, I think that it is time to reconsider how we use our disk drives, and other means of storage on non-removable media. It seems that too much emphasis is put on making hard drives, bigger, faster, when maybe all we need to do is to think up and create mission-specific storage products, as to better suit the needs of every user and every machine, specially in these days where many people have more than one computer fulfilling more than one task.

One of my best articles this year if you ask me. Critics are more than welcome, feel free to leave your own point of vue either here (no registration required) or on the OCN blog, which requires membership to comment.

Read the entire article at my OCN hardware blog.

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§ 4 Responses to [OCN] Rethinking Hard Drives and Storage

  • tyler lee says:

    I agree, but for a different reason. Sorry if I repeat, i read your article while half asleep earlier.

    I think that in the next five years we will finally see huge movement to online computing in the form of a suite of packages like google. Not saying its going to replace word or anything like that, but more of it happening, and five years from now maybe it won’t be crazy to see an online replacement for your favorite desktop program right now. Data intensive situations like that will be controlled by the servers instead of the home computer.

    I definitely see a monitor / lightweight computer combination sitting on my desktop as opposed to a big storage monolith because I will be doing everything via the internet not wasting my precious cycles.

  • Although the discussion is getting slightly wider than just hard drives, I would have to agree.

    With the costs of machines going down, and since stuff like the eeePC have been put on the market, de-centralization of computing is imminent. You can already see that some of the giants are following the trend. Windows Home Server, although I personally consider it a total flop, is nonetheless a good example of how the industry is try to sell more machines, but more task-specific machines, to make computing simpler, cheaper, and more tailored to the user. That way I can have my EEE for surfing, my gaming box with a huge RAID0 array just for gaming, and my server to connect both together. A dream come true. Having a centralized server would also allow me to put computer where I never thought I would: in my home theater rack (not that original but a big step for me), in the kitchen, heck maybe even in the bathroom. Because I have some higher authority, those secondary boxes don’t have to be beefy, hence reduces the cost of putting computers everywhere in my house. I think I’m getting a bit too excited about this.

    While the conservative person inside me thinks that running apps off the internet is still a shaky idea, it’s a thing that I can very well see happening on a LAN environment. But hey, if it’s possible on a LAN, it’s possible on a bigger network for sure, ie the internet.

    Thanks for your comment.

  • tyler lee says:

    Its definitely the next generation of the internet before we see something really take hold. The inconsistencies of solid service are enough to trounce the idea right now. Maybe when we can get a steady wireless network that is always on.

  • tyler says:

    funny I just wrote a quickie (not a shameless plug) about Google Gears which potentially could unite the online and offline software services. It is going to be very interesting to see how seamlessly google can get gears up and running with big, commonly used pieces of software because it could invent that future that I dream of. 🙂

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