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.
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?