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January 27th, 2010
In 2005, we got perpendicular recording (the magnetic regions are arranged vertically rather than end to end). All this engineering effort meant for years now data densities on the platter where growing by 100 per cent a year, without prices doing the same. Now a typical drive of 500GB or 1TB costs about £50, give or take.
Enter the cocky solid state drive to step all over the old guard, sporting no moving parts and access times a spinning disc could only dream of.
From its origins in server and racks, through USB keys, we now have solid state drives that plug straight into SATA, so you can simply plug them in and off you trot. Instead of all that moving about gubbins you've a mass of non-volatile NAND flash memory. Great stuff, problem solved.
SSDs are excellent at random reads, there's no disc head to position, it'll run a hundred times faster than its mechanical cousin with random access times of about a tenth of a millisecond versus up to 10 milli-seconds. Sequential reads run at 150 to 200MB/s, double or more that of a typical HHD.
There are a good dozen new memory technologies in the wings - MRAM, CBRAM, PRAM, NRAM, SONOS, TRAM, FeRAM and many more. Some use a matrix of magnets to store bits, others use ions within an electrolyte, phase changing materials or various applications of nanotechnology. The dream of some is a universal memory - a single big block of RAM replacing all storage and your main memory.
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