Thursday, March 6, 2008

Site note, Hard drives, and OCZ

Few quickies (possibly more later tonight - I'm feeling ultra-productive again).

1) In order to be more timely with news, I'm going to begin a weekly link dump on Sunday for the previous week's items. I'll try to make it as enjoyable as possible. This will begin next weekend (seminar to prepare for on Monday). Also, I'm still waiting on my laptop, and as soon as I get that, I will post Super Paper Xday. I don't like dealing with the slowdown of VPN access to campus and I download all these papers as I compile the list.

2) Another few hard drive developments worth noting. I mention hard drives alot because I know we all deal with gobs of data regularly. Hell, right now, Matlab is about 4 hours from filling up my main hard drive.

As we all have seen, the last major upgrade to hard drive technology, perpendicular recording, has run it's route. So, there are a few things on the horizon. Most notably, Sony recently announced a new method of increasing the density of data on each platter, predicting 2.5TB notebook and 5TB desktop drives within the next few years (I'm guessing 3-4).

Short rambling aside. Don't sit around waiting for solid state drives to make their spinning, magnetic brethren obsolete. These two technologies will exist side-by-side for at LEAST another decade. Why? Hard drives rely on more specialized technology that really only hard drive manufacturers and a hand full of physicists work on. Flash gets all the benefits of modern IC research, along with the reduction in dye sizes, etc that is constantly being reinvented. That means, a) the technology used in flash memory will top out 'sooner'. Sure that's in the distant future, BUT look at it this way: hard drive technology is still more viable even with all those resources benefiting this other technology. b) any truly novel approaches to form factor, like 3D storage, will eventually filter BACK to hard drive design. Remember that flash has already been pigeon-holed as portable and small. While that doesn't mean that it can't be made big and bulky, little research has been done on how exactly that will impact speeds and failure rates. Flash has the potential to be faster, but currently isn't. Bulky hard drives are much more acceptable. I dare say it, but I would not be surprised to see a return of the 5.25" hard drive. If I could buy a 5TB 5.25" hard drive right now for $50 more than a 1TB 3.5" I would jump at it in a heartbeat. Hell, there really is no reason why two sets of platters couldn't be merged into a single housing (a kind of like a fully motherboard agnostic RAID setup). So, short term - flash will show impressive density increases, long term - hard drives remain dominant. Either way, both will likely undergo major form factor changes within the next 5 years.

Other news: 64GB Solid state drive in ExpressCard format. Sweet.

Seagate has finally updated the Cheetah drives to a max of 450GB. This makes an excellent system drive, with 15k rpm and the fastest sustained rate available. The previous generation topped out at 137GB, and once 1TB drives hit, the speeds were no longer worth the price premium (and were generally beaten by mainstream drives). The current ones improve on the previous as much as 28%.

And last, I just got a 32GB flash drive. You should get one, too. $130 at NewEgg.

3) Engadget had some 'heads-on' time with the OCZ Neural Impulse Actuator. Imagine my surprise when they said, "The unit seemed to primarily concern itself with our forehead muscle contractions, but other subtle motions seemed to come out of nowhere when we moved our eyes or concentrated just right." *cough cough "80% muscle EMG, 17% eye EOG, and 3% neural EEG." cough cough*

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