Seagate making headlines over future of storage

Disclaimer: Seagate is the exclusive sponsor of my show, which I greatly appreciate.

BetaNews reports on Seagate’s reported moves into the flash memory space.

It’s interesting, I’ve been working on a series of videos at Sun (with the ZFS team, which makes a file system manager that’s used on a lot of data center hard drives, so they know something about the reliability of media that they sit on top of) and at Seagate (I’m interviewing several of the engineers there on Monday) to talk specifically about storage technology and management.

The BetaNews article is on point with what executives at Seagate have been telling me: that hard drives aren’t going away anytime soon.

Why not?

1) Reliability. The ZFS team at Sun told me that in their tests hard drives are an order of magnitude more reliable than flash memory is (that video will be up next week). Reliable meaning you get accurate data back out. We’ll talk more about that with the engineers.
2) Cost. Hard drives are going to continue being much lower cost per terabyte than flash will be.

That said, Bill Watkins, Seagate’s CEO, recently told me that they are working on hybrid drives where your OS would be stored on flash and everything else would be stored on the hard drive. Why do that if the reliability of flash memory is less than hard drive storage? Because the flash will be a cached version. Backed up by the hard drive. And then you get all of flash’s advantages: almost instant boot time (very fast recall out) and low power utilization since you won’t need to spin a hard drive up just to get to your OS. I can’t wait to get a laptop that has these advantages.

But he’s also emphatic that hard drives are going to be here indefinitely into the future (I won’t say “never” cause that’s a very long time, but generally technologists can only see a few years into the future anyway, so when we make grand statements you’ve got to put them into context of that smaller time frame, not something like 1,000 years from now).

Anyway, there’s a bunch of stuff coming from Seagate over the next few weeks. On September 5th they are hosting a big press event in New York and that’s when my videos will be released from embargo and we can talk more about this stuff. What the engineers at Seagate and other storage companies are doing is just amazing. I remember my first hard drive. Cost thousands of dollars and only held 20 megabytes (not gigabytes). Today a 200 gig hard drive on a desktop is considered “entry level.”

Anything you want me to ask Seagate’s engineers about this stuff?

29 thoughts on “Seagate making headlines over future of storage

  1. Does anyone know where in New York Seagate will be hosting a big press event on Sep. 5th and if it is open to the public?

    Thanks

  2. Does anyone know where in New York Seagate will be hosting a big press event on Sep. 5th and if it is open to the public?

    Thanks

  3. This use of flash to store the os should be possible now. I wonder if anyone’s working on this in the open source software world. I’ve got a gig sd card constantly plugged into my laptop just waiting for such a use.

  4. This use of flash to store the os should be possible now. I wonder if anyone’s working on this in the open source software world. I’ve got a gig sd card constantly plugged into my laptop just waiting for such a use.

  5. Hybrid drives – with the OS on the flash – That WOULD be great! Id never really thought through that far. I agree with James D Kirk – would make sense. CAD and other software (future Adobe stuff for example) will only get bigger, and almost become mini-os’s themselves so yes, flexibility to where on the hybrid you store i guess should be a possibility. Now the thing is; you’ve mentioned it could exist, so now i’m going to be so impatient !!

  6. Hybrid drives – with the OS on the flash – That WOULD be great! Id never really thought through that far. I agree with James D Kirk – would make sense. CAD and other software (future Adobe stuff for example) will only get bigger, and almost become mini-os’s themselves so yes, flexibility to where on the hybrid you store i guess should be a possibility. Now the thing is; you’ve mentioned it could exist, so now i’m going to be so impatient !!

  7. Ask them what they think about a chinese company trying to buy them.

    I read that in the news yesterday.

  8. Ask them what they think about a chinese company trying to buy them.

    I read that in the news yesterday.

  9. When are solid state drives going to start showing up at a decent price? With the price of memory dropping surely it can’t be too long.

  10. When are solid state drives going to start showing up at a decent price? With the price of memory dropping surely it can’t be too long.

  11. Magnetic disks are like the piston engine. There is an unending series of things that look like they could replace disks, but the rate of improvement of disk emulsion and read/write heads keeps disks around while the other technologies languish. Bubble memory, holographic memory, etc, etc.

  12. Magnetic disks are like the piston engine. There is an unending series of things that look like they could replace disks, but the rate of improvement of disk emulsion and read/write heads keeps disks around while the other technologies languish. Bubble memory, holographic memory, etc, etc.

  13. If they are going to enable flash disks to be loaded with OS (presumably, one would be able to wipe and load any OS of choice, yes?), is there any option of doing the same with large applications that one might want to run off a flash disk as well (say a CAD program or some such)?

  14. If they are going to enable flash disks to be loaded with OS (presumably, one would be able to wipe and load any OS of choice, yes?), is there any option of doing the same with large applications that one might want to run off a flash disk as well (say a CAD program or some such)?

  15. Nice to see you linking to Scott Fulton, but you know change happens faster and faster today. What’s next after flash memory?

  16. Nice to see you linking to Scott Fulton, but you know change happens faster and faster today. What’s next after flash memory?

  17. (1) Are the disk folk still saying that they “only” know where to find the next factor of 100 in density/capacity? (They started saying that long before they were within 100x of current density/capacity.)

    (2) What are they doing to speed up the interface? The minimum time to read the whole disk is steadily increasing. Seek times continue to fall behind capacity.

  18. (1) Are the disk folk still saying that they “only” know where to find the next factor of 100 in density/capacity? (They started saying that long before they were within 100x of current density/capacity.)

    (2) What are they doing to speed up the interface? The minimum time to read the whole disk is steadily increasing. Seek times continue to fall behind capacity.

  19. That’s quite a timely post. I’m sitting here planning out my home server rack and was pondering whether I should put in a terabyte of HD RAID or put in some smaller flash-based drives as they trickle out over the next year. From the sounds of it, my disk setup is gonna have to be HD.

  20. That’s quite a timely post. I’m sitting here planning out my home server rack and was pondering whether I should put in a terabyte of HD RAID or put in some smaller flash-based drives as they trickle out over the next year. From the sounds of it, my disk setup is gonna have to be HD.

  21. Sure! I’d be interested to know if 3-d storage is making any progress and if crystaline storage (organic methods of creating/growing capacity) is anywhere near “real” or if it’s still Dick Tracy type sci-fi.

  22. Sure! I’d be interested to know if 3-d storage is making any progress and if crystaline storage (organic methods of creating/growing capacity) is anywhere near “real” or if it’s still Dick Tracy type sci-fi.

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