[OCN] Rethinking Hard Drives and Storage

Post by Maxime Rousseau

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.