Skip to comments.Only way to stop the iPad: Flash-disk mutant SPEED FREAKS
Posted on 02/12/2013 10:46:22 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
With the rise of the iPad and the growing desire among consumers and enterprise for sexy and speedy gadgets, it seemed that flash gits were holding all the cards. The hard drive industry was holding its breath, wondering how to replicate the expensive experience. But what about hybrid disk drives, the ones that have a lump of flash cache inside their casing? Are they just the thing to spread tablets and Ultrabooks into the mass market? It's now increasingly likely that hybrid drives combining flash speed and disk drive capacity and affordability will take a massive mass-market bite out of the computing pie, leaving a reduced wedge for pricy all-flash tablets and notebooks and just a small sliver for lumbering and slow disk-only notebooks and desktops.
When Apple introduced its all-flash MacBook Air notebook a few years ago it prompted a great deal of heartache inside disk drive suppliers and Intel who both feared that ARM-powered, flash-using ultra-thin Air-style notebooks would decimate the Wintel disk-drive notebook business. The result was Intel's massive ultrathin notebook design initiative.
Seagate, seeing which way this wind was blowing, also saw that a flash cache could be used to hold the most sensitive files from a user wait time point of view - the operating system and applications - and provide 90 per cent or so of flash speed at boot, app load and shutdown times, along with with basic disk affordability.
(Excerpt) Read more at theregister.co.uk ...
WTH? Lumbering desktops? I’ve got SSDs in my liquid-cooled desktop, and it runs circles around my iPad as far as FloPs (Floating Point Operations) and disk write operations go.
That’s not to say that the new devices aren’t going to catch up, but I’d still rather play Minecraft on my gaming desktop than my iPad.
So what might the new consoles coming do FOR you,.....any hope and all that they might get some business from you?
any hope AT all that ....
I stopped reading after “the Register”.
>> Ive got SSDs in my liquid-cooled desktop<<
Liquid cooled desktops are like cocaine — life’s way of telling you that you have too much money and too much free time.
Good for you.
OEMs given terabyte and half-terabyte versions
CES 2013 WD is sending out samples of its 500GB and 1TB hybrid flash hard disk drives to OEM customers and showcasing them at CES in Las Vegas.
According to an Engadget report WD is sampling two hybrid HDDS with its OEMs:
This is more NAND cache than the 8GB seen in Seagate's Momentus XT. Hybrid drives put commonly used data, such as the operating system and application load files, in the NAND cache to speed start-up and application load times to near native-SSD speed, but at a price significantly below SSDs. Hybrids may become known as SSHDs, solid state hard drives, but it hasn't really caught on yet.
Both hybrid drives are in WD's Black range - what used to be the Scorpio Blacks - spinning at 5,400 and 7,200rpm. The 1TB one has a 6Gbits SATA interface and the 500GB unit has a new connector.
If these drives come to fruition they could signal the end of the 10,000rpm Velociraptor drive, beloved of gamers. Data access speed will come from flash, not from the disk spinning faster.
We suspect these two hybrids both use 500GB platters, spin at 5,400 rpm, and might be available in the second half of the year. ®
It's like all our storage Christmases came at once
Seagate aims to ship enhanced capacity shingled magnetic recording (SMR) disk drives later this year and bring in Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) technology next year, a full two years earlier than supposed. Possibly this is its riposte to the helium gas attack mounted by WD subsidiary HGST.
Shingled magnetic recording - the overlapping of data tracks to cram more tracks and hence more data onto a drive's recording surfaces - will be introduced by Seagate on drives this year, according to Stifel Nicolaus analyst Aaron Rakers, who talked to Seagate EVP and chief sales and marketing officer Rocky Pimentel at the Stifel Tech Conference.
The current PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording) process is nearing the end of its development, as any further decrease in the size of the magnetised bits renders them unstable, hence the need for storage firms to move on to newer, denser recording technology.
Pimental said SMR drives would be introduced later this year, and enable a 20 - 25 per cent areal density increase. Taking a 4TB 3.5-inch drive and giving it an SMR upgrade would bump capacity up to 4.8TB to 5TB.
Meanwhile, rival HGST is approaching the same problem with a different solution - filling a drive with low friction helium gas and adding more platters so that, for example, a 4TB 4-platter drive becomes, for example, a 6-7 platter drive in the same enclosure with capacity ranging between 6TB and 7TB, assuming 1TB/platter technology. HGST could well start small, so to speak and intro a 5-platter 5TB drive.
As we explained here, SMR drives take longer to rewrite data because tracks overlapped by the new data track have to be reconstructed before the new data is laid down, thus creating a rewrite time penalty. Helium gas-filled drives won't suffer from this disadvantage.
A HAMR type head
Pimental told Rakers that following the 2013 SMR drive push, we can expect Seagate to ship HAMR disks in 2014. This is two years or so earlier than has been assumed. HAMR uses different recording media in which data bits are smaller than the current perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology and much stabler than equivalent-sized PMR bits would be. This instability is what is closing off further PMR areal density improvement through decreasing the bit size. HAMR bits need to be heated (the H in HAMR) before their magnetic state can be changed, meaning a tiny laser heater has to be added to the read/write head to provide the fast and localised bit heating needed as the head flies above the moving recording medium surface.
Back in March last year Seagate said it had built a HAMR drive with a trillion bits/in2 areal density, some 60 per cent higher than the 620Gbit/in2 seen in a 3-platter, 3TB Barracuda drive. This implies that a 1TB/platter PMR drive could become a 1.6TB/platter HAMR drive and today's 4TB 4-platter 3.5-inch drives could become 6.4TB drives.
So, the Seagate capacity improvement from today's 4TB PMR drives is:
Back in March last year Seagate was talking about 10 years of progressive HAMR technology generations leading to a 60TB 3.5-inch drive. We're looking at a disk capacity race between Seagate using SMR and HAMR, and HGST using helium (and SMR), with Toshiba and Western Digital so far having not declared their technology preferences. Which way will they jump to increase capacity?
Pimental also said Seagate will start shipping 5mm thick 2.5-inch in dual drive and hybrid (flash cache + disk) form for the tablet and thin/light notebook market in the second half of this year, with possibly a million or more such dries shipped by year-end. He says there will bean insignificant price premium for hybrid hard drives, above 1 million shipment volumes.
The Seagate sales and marketing bod also talked about Virident, the PCIe flash card vendor into which Seagate pumped $40m a short time ago, and whose product it is offering its OEMs and channel (as a Seagate PCIe flash card product). He said additional functionality could be provided for the product, such as file management, device awareness and security.
Whoever said disk drive technology and supply was settling into boredom? No way, Jose. ®
Liquid cooling can be had for most run-of-the-mill desktops for $250.
When you have multiple gfx card blocks, RAM coolers, northbridge blocks, southbridge blocks, HDD blocks, passive in-line radiators, thermal abductors, and in-line temperature sensors, THEN you have too much money and/or time.
>>When you have multiple gfx card blocks, RAM coolers, northbridge blocks, southbridge blocks, HDD blocks, passive in-line radiators, thermal abductors, and in-line temperature sensors, THEN you have too much money and/or time.<<
Dang! I guess I need to donate more to charity!
Consoles don’t really shake my tree. Micro$oft, Sony, and Nintendo are doing everything they can to turn their consoles into one-size-fits-all multimedia platforms that can control your TV experience, play movies from media or storage, stream online content, and act as a consolidated social media platform. They each do well in in their own little way.
I only recently got an iPad, and I admit that I love it for browsing FR from the recliner while the wife watches TV or catching up on email or news while I wait in the doctor’s office. As far as gaming, however, it doesn’t really do anything FOR me. Touchscreens are still very awkward compared to MAK desktop gameplay, and I doubt that will change anytime soon.
Younger generations who came up with touchscreens will likely enjoy and innovate tablet/phone gaming, because they’ve grown accustomed to it, but as a Linux CLI geek and system engineer, I prefer my MAK to voice control or touchscreen anyway.
I haven’t purchased a gaming console in years. Last one I received as a gift was the Nintendo Wii, and the last one I purchased for myself was the Nintendo Gamecube. I prefer my custom-built gaming desktop and a very hearty selection of games from Steam to quench my thirst. And, of course, there’s always Minecraft.
You and me both.
Of course this article has zero to do with “stopping the iPad”. That’s just the yellow journalists and Apple haters at the Register/Inquirer drawing page views.
The writing is on the wall for spinning disk drives. At some point in the near future solid state nonvolatile storage will hit a price-performance-capacity point that will make it the sweet spot for most stuff. Those with multiple terabytes to store still might have a spinning disk or two for second-tier storage.
I’ve been surprised, given the complexity, unreliability, noise, heat and manufacturing overhead associated with rotating magnetic drives that they’ve held their own for this long.
Cooler Master's Seidon 120XL/240M hits Europe
Scaling is not working for them like it is for Logic circuits.
Every body expects that making the transistors smaller and smaller will drop the prices....but there is a very nasty problem.
They keep reworking the controlers and wear intervals,...and spare rewrite area....etc....but it is not easy.
I don't claim what I just wrote is totally coherent....but it is a nasty issur with the physics.
There is no such thing as too much money. BTW, I built a liquid cooled 8 core desktop with 32GB of memory for under $700.
Put wings on this sucker and it’ll surely fly.
I would hope so. However, I would imagine that the iPad would be a tad more portable, if you want to play (read, surf, whatever) while not at your desk.
That's always been the trade-off -- raw power vs. portability.
My response to that has always been: “I sit at a desk and stare at a screen for 8 hours a day for living. I don’t want to come home to continue doing it.”
Since I married last year, I’ve found I spend a lot less time behind the joystick and a lot more time with my wife either outdoors or working around the house.
Since Intel’s announced they’re not making enthusiast-marketed processors after this year, and the market is likely to start moving more toward OEM and consoles, I’ll likely hang up my hobbyist belt to focus more on gunsmithing, gardening, or fishing as I get older.
My son is always turning his nose up at my modest rig....loves his dinky laptop.
Whoever said disk drive technology and supply was settling into boredom? No way, Jose. ®
Indeed, just wait till they figure out how to go a few layers deep with magnetic recording then it could get really crazy.
I have been reading the technicals on the Flash memory and they haave got a problem....
Scaling is not working for them like it is for Logic circuits.
Yes, with regular NAND Flash which has many elements per flash “cell”.... I was hoping they could have figured out the MRAM, Phase CHange RAM, or Memristor tech for solid state storage which promises fewer elements per “bit” and would allow many fold densities over conventional memory tech.
But they seem to be a lot like Nuclear Fusion, always X number of years away....
I’ve had much better luck with spinning discs with most of them lasting longer than their usefullness. Solid state has a limitted number of read/writes and if used frequently can have a significanly shorter lifespan than a spinning disc.
“I have been reading the technicals on the Flash memory and they haave got a problem....
I don’t claim what I just wrote is totally coherent....but it is a nasty issur with the physics.”
Note that I said “solid state”, not “flash”. There are non-volatile memory technologies on the way that make flash look slow, unreliable and low-density.
That said, flash is absolutely there today as a workable improvement over magnetic hard drives. For most users (and by that I mean those not running enterprise databases with large write loads) current SSDs are a fine solution. I recommend the Intel 3/500 series, which include a five year warranty:
Almost no home users will even come close to the write limit. Five years is plenty of lifetime, and there’s nothing to say that they won’t keep on ticking for long after that.
You need backups regardless of the local storage technology you’re using. Both SSDs and magnetic drives can fail, usually at the least convenient time.
Personally, my plan for my next system I’ll get this year is to use Raid 1 (mirroring) with multiple 240 GB SSDs. That also provides a ~2x read throughput performance improvement. There is no write penalty as with spinning disks, since there’s no rotational latency. As with traditional drives, I’ll buy my five SSDs (four for use, one as a hot-swap replacement) from different lots.
Backups will still be needed, but system availability should be 100%.
“Ive had much better luck with spinning discs with most of them lasting longer than their usefullness. Solid state has a limitted number of read/writes and if used frequently can have a significanly shorter lifespan than a spinning disc.”
Flash (not solid state in general) has a limited number of writes, unlimited reads. Since most computers do far more reading than writing, this generally works out well. For me, five years is a long horizon on computer equipment. Most often by then performance has improved so much the old system is moved to some secondary role, or given away. I expect even with my fairly heavy system use that SSDs will easily last five years worth of write cycles.
It’s unfortunate that even the enterprise class SSDs don’t include modular controller electronics. The manufacturers don’t want to spend the extra $1 or so on a connector (and take a very small hit on reliability). If they had it, you could order a $10 replacement card that would very likely restore access to your data.
SSDs don’t have the mechanical failure modes that plague rotating drives, the most common being head crashes, drive motor failure and head servo failure. It’s true that you can spend thousands and sometimes recover some data, but if you’re doing proper backups you can save all that money, time and hassle. Plus, in the case of a head crash, some data will simply not be recoverable. Back up your data! ;-)
I aim at keeping my SSDs 1/3 full, never more than 1/2 full.
Building your own is the cheapest route for high end computing.
Use what you want.
Spinning discs have at least one more generation of advancement left in them which should keep them at a significant price advantage for the next few years. I don’t have a problem switching to solid state, and I will when the price and reliability become competitive.
Combining the two technologies is probably going to be the best solution for most people for quite a while.
“Use what you want.”
I certainly will, thank you! ;-)
“Spinning discs have at least one more generation of advancement left in them which should keep them at a significant price advantage for the next few years. I dont have a problem switching to solid state, and I will when the price and reliability become competitive.”
Right, they have a price advantage and a performance disadvantage. I believe that for the Intel SSDs at least, they also have a reliability disadvantage for most users. It’s not clear when a solid state alternative will beat magnetic storage on price per capacity - I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet. Magnetic drives involve a lot of mechanical complexity and assembly, versus solid state which is basically modified sand... ;-)
I don’t need a ton of storage, so SSDs are fine for me. If I did need a few terabytes of storage, I’d probably do a second RAID of traditional hard drives for that...in the short term.
“Combining the two technologies is probably going to be the best solution for most people for quite a while.”
The concern I have about these drives with flash cache is that the cache is going to see quite a bit of write activity by necessity. I wonder how that will work out...
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