Boffins claim that there is life in the HDD technology yet with the costs falling and drive sizes increasing. A new study claims that by 2020, hard disk drives will likely be less expensive on a cost per terabyte basis than any of the competing technologies. The study gives the thumbs down to boffins who are developing nonvolatile memory (NVM) technologies, saying it is unlikely to replace HDDs within the next decade.
According to the popular engineering magazine IEEE Transactions on Magnetics, which we get for the spot the ball competition, Professor Mark Kryder and PhD student Chang Soo Kim of Carnegie Mellon University have investigated 13 up-and-coming NVM technologies to see whether one of them might outperform HDDs on a cost-per-TB basis in 2020.
They reasons that if HDDs continue to progress at their current pace, then in 2020 a two-disk, 2.5-inch disk drive will be capable of storing more than 14 TB and will cost about $40. The cost of flash memories are about ten times that figure and it will soon will reach technical limits that will prevent its continued scaling before 2020, keeping them from replacing HDDs.
Kryder and Kim said that most technologies will probably not be competitive with HDDs or flash memories at that time, except for two potential candidates: phase change random access memory (PCRAM) and spin transfer torque random access memory (STTRAM).
PCRAM is based on the phase change properties of chalcogenide glass. With the application of heat, the glass can switch between two different states (amorphous and crystalline) to be used as a memory. PCRAMs have the potential to offer high densities and be cost-competitive with HDDs, but their biggest drawback is that they require somewhat higher power than most other technologies.
STTRAM, which is similar to magnetic RAM, uses a spin polarized current to write data by reorienting the states of a magnetic tunnel junction between parallel and anti-parallel orientations. Kryder and Kim found that STTRAMs appear to potentially offer superior power efficiency, among other advantages. If STTRAMs could be improved to store multiple bits per cell, the researchers predict that STTRAMs’ density could make them candidates for replacing flash memory and possibly HDDs.
However not for a few years yet.
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