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El Reg gets schooled on why SSDs will NOT kill off the trusty hard drive

Anonymous Coward

I just replaced the HDD in my laptop with...

...a HDD

Why? I use the thing for web browsing, messing around with photos, watching iplayer and composing documents..... and a 1TB HDD was £46 including next day delivery.

Yes, an SSD would be faster, but I already had about 220GB of stuff on my old hard disk, so it's not hard to see that a £70-£80 240GB SSD wouldn't be up to the job for long, so I'd have to fork out even more for a ~500GB SSD.

I have difficulty believing that the price per GB of a given SSD size actually reflects the relationship between development/manufacturing cost and capacity.

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Re: I just replaced the HDD in my laptop with...

The solution you really need for a single disk laptop is a hybrid that gives you some of the performance that SSD offers whilst retaining the cheap capacity a spinning disk gives (in fact a 1TB 'SSHD' is on eBuyer for £47 currently, so cost isn't a differentiator).

And this is really the crux of the interview isn't it? SSD technology will be used to provide high performance, low capacity functions whilst spinning rust provides the cheap cheap capacity.

As with everything I'm sure eventually a 9-dimensional quantum nano-cube will appear that will blow them both out of the water but I suspect that we'll retain the current paradigm for a while as yet.

I mean I'm still sending offsite, long term storage out on reels of magnetised plastic and I've been being told that tape storage was dead for years now*, which is odd because there are lots of people selling large robotic tape libraries and we recently saw reported a new record achieved in tape density so it's clearly still relevant. And look at Veeam back tracking and adding in tape support.

*mainly by people trying to sell me backup solutions that don't have the technology to hook into tape drives.

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Re: I just replaced the HDD in my laptop with...

SSD prices really do reflect costs especially give a 32 layer device has 32 layers of cells where a cell probably has four layers to add.

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Re: I just replaced the HDD in my laptop with...

So like what? An external USB HDD casing never occurred to you?

Any sane tinker in your shoes would have bought an SSD together with a USB HDD casing. Put the SSD in as the boot drive and put your old HDD into the USB casing for extra data space.

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Childcatcher

Re: I just replaced the HDD in my laptop with...

I've set up hundreds of laptops over the last couple of years and the best compromise for speed/capacity have been hybrid drives. For the last two years for those people who require considerable amounts of data, like muscians, performers, legal, scientific a 1TB is usually sufficient. Of course the more data the larger the backup and the longer the time required to protect your data.

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Re: I just replaced the HDD in my laptop with...

I have about 6 of the seagate 1tb sshd hybrids deployed across 2 small domains (all in desktops no laptops) and see no real benefit. really a small ssd for windows with a 500gb to 1tb plattter for data would work better for me.

but...it does work better for some so YMMV of course.

edit: fwiw on desktops here at home on this domain I use intel ssd (240gb) with 2-4 multi TB (mix of 2 and 3 tb) platters as secondaries.

this works real well for me.

so....ssd and platter gives me options that platter alone did not give me.

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Re: I just replaced the HDD in my laptop with...

I replaced a 1TB hdd on my laptop with a 960GB ssd, and the speed increase was like getting a brand new laptop. It wasn't by any means the fastest sdd on the market, but still well worth the extra money.

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Re: I just replaced the HDD in my laptop with...

"Put the SSD in as the boot drive and put your old HDD into the USB casing for extra data space."

I get it: it's a use case that works for you so of course it must work for everyone else.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I just replaced the HDD in my laptop with...

I have an Acer that came with a 1T HD, and an otherwise undocumented SSD interface on the motherboard. I ended up creating a hybrid.

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WTF?

Re: I just replaced the HDD in my laptop with...

"(in fact a 1TB 'SSHD' is on eBuyer for £47 currently, so cost isn't a differentiator)"

This little nugget stood out to me as I've been looking to buy a 500Mb SSD for most of this year and haven't seen the price drop below £100 except in rare sale events. Looking at Ebuyer today the lowest entry SSD in the 500Mb range is £129. In the 1TB range it's actually £260 - a long way away from your quoted figure! So you'll forgive me if I disagree with your abrupt dismissal of pricing not being a differentiator.

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Re: I just replaced the HDD in my laptop with...

SSHD, i.e. a hybrid drive. The pricing for those is broadly comparable to the equivalent hard drive. About twelve months ago I got a 4Tb/8Gb flash hybrid, if memory serves it was around a fiver more than the equivalent purely mechanical drive.

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Re: I just replaced the HDD in my laptop with...

Any sane tinker in your shoes would have bought an SSD together with a USB HDD casing. Put the SSD in as the boot drive and put your old HDD into the USB casing for extra data space.

No, any sane thinker realises that's a pile of extra crap to cart around when it's not necessary, and for a pittance they can have 10x the storage space internally that they could have with spending a small fortune for a pitiful amount of space on SSD.

That and, given the "wonderful" speeds of USB, adding a HDD via USB so you can have the performance of SSD kinda defeats the purpose doesn't it? Just means you're a bit faster to reach the point where you have to wait for the machine to crawl.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I just replaced the HDD in my laptop with...

Tape back up may still be a continued (and massively declining sector). Who are the many people still trying to selling large tape libraries? I can name them: IBM. Oracle. Spectralogic. That's too few imho. Its a declining market.

IBM making bigger arial density films matters not - especially with them (IBM) in particular, shrinking their storage HW business for something like 18 straight quarters. Tape is a relatively small portion of their dwindling storage tin revenues

Tape recovery of large systems is, on the other hand, a different fish altogether. It's not a compelling story when you are in DR and can't read back a significant proportion of tapes from the vault. Especia;;y those not retensioned regularly, spanning several data and tape formats, and maybe with the catelogues gone. It's a terrifying and career-limiting prospect for any back up Owner.

Don't get me wrong I build a career on tape, and I love the technology in principle. But it's only just hanging on in there as a viable market sector for vendors.

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Re: I just replaced the HDD in my laptop with...

This has also been my experience, hybrid drives sound like a good idea on paper but the flash caching isn't really big enough to provide any noticeable benefit. With an SSD it's hard to argue that there's a performance increase but with hybrid not so much.

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Anonymous Coward

Just another tier

Likely we will just end up with another tier in the cache hierarchy .... and that's before SCM / 3D-xpoint create yet another between DRAM and SSD

SRAM

DRAM

SCM/XPoint

NAND

HDD

TAPE ....

will they lose their shirts ? .. probably some will (its been happening since the 16K DRAM), but if they can move wafer starts between DRAM/SCM and NAND then maybe most will be OK.

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SSDvHDDvTape

The death of tape hasn't happened yet so I would expect the death of spinning disc is some way off. Given HDD is still evolving there's still life in those platters (picked up a 4TB external USB drive last week - almost enough for my Steam games collection) . Enterprises are even more conscious of cost/performance ratios and HDD remains fast enough for the majority of use cases - we don't all need the performance of a Ferrari when we are shifting a transit van load around.

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Re: SSDvHDDvTape

"The death of tape hasn't happened yet so I would expect the death of spinning disc is some way off. "

There's an unspoken SPOF in the HDD industry: Platters and heads are both single-source items, so it doesn't matter that there are 2.5 OEMs left (Seagate/WD duopoly with Toshiba as a bit player) - we saw this effect in 2011 and HDD prices are _still_ higher than they were before the Thai floods, with significantly degraded warranties compared to 2011.

HDDs are evolving too slowly and SSD pricing is still falling. I believe the argument about fabs is wishful thinking as demand is elastic inasmuch as each decrease in price causes a non-linear (more like exponential) increase in demand, so more fabs won't cause a glut. Unlike RAM, NAND is a market with demand far higher than available supplies for the forseeable future and where bringing new capacity online effectively doesn't cause competition for sales.

Whilst SSD has the issue of cold storage(*), in all other respects it's far more robust than HDD whilst using less power. The only people arguing passionately for mechanical sales have vested interest in mechanical equipment or vendors.

(*) HDDs also have a problem in terms of "sometimes a cold storage drive doesn't spin up". SSDs can be used for cold storage as long as they're periodically powered up and tested/refreshed but in reality HDDs need this too (as does tape).

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Re: SSDvHDDvTape

The death of tape hasn't happened yet so I would expect the death of spinning disc is some way off.

But optical storage is dead. Archival Disc may have kept it alive as a medium, but now people can buy a 3TB HDD for $65, and it would take 30 BD-XL 3-layer disks (which cost over twice as much) to store the same data.

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Surely another dimension is whether the technology to build/operate FABs more cheaply is evolving too? No idea of the answer, but if it were possible to build NAND that's maybe a generation or two old, but at large scale and at eg 1/3 of the current price then the picture would change again.

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Unhappy

"whether the technology to build/operate FABs more cheaply is evolving too?"

AFAIK the answer is "no."

One of these SoA all bells & Whistles was $3Bn. I'd guess it's more like $4.5-5.0Bn by now and rising as the continued efforts to finally deliver the promised "Extreme UV" AKA Soft X-Ray lithography.

So no it does not look like they are getting any cheaper.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm, would the prices crash? The cost of entry is so high then prices wouldn't need to crash as they will still be controlled by a few big companies.

This pseudo cartel can control prices to ensure that they don't risk a loss. Any startup would struggle to build capacity while keeping prices well below market level and so wouldn't enter the market in the first place.

If prices crash and cause a loss it will only be because of a war of attrition with one big player trying to push the others out of the market but this wouldn't be sustainable and is more likely to reach a happy medium where costs are lowered gradually in line with new technologies but margins remain the similar.

I don't work for Gartner so this analysis is provided FoC.

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But if the prices don't come down you'll still have a very large number of people sticking with the platter spinners and a whole stack of SSD/NAND piling up. One thing folks like investors don't like seeing on balance sheets is a large quantity of inventory that only grows over time.

It's a bit like the oil market has been for a few years. Some clever guys figured out an easier way to get oil out of the ground while prices were high so they did and at a very high rate to the point where it was becoming difficult to find places to store it all. Remember in 2014 started with a barrel price over $100 and it was about $50 at the end of 2014 and that's where it still sits even with a real cartel doing their best to keep prices up.

In short, I don't see the SSD players being able to sit on a large inventory like DeBeers can with diamonds because they'll be paying real money to have the manufacturing capacity and accumulating inventory doesn't pay the bills as long as there's a ready alternative in HDD. Diamonds come pretty cheap at the wages paid in underdeveloped countries and diamonds also have the advantage of being a Veblen good. DeBeers spends lots of marketing dollars to make sure you believe diamonds are rare and precious stones and that ones dug up are somehow better than the ones you grow in the garage.

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Re: "whether the technology to build/operate FABs more cheaply is evolving too?"

" the continued efforts to finally deliver the promised "Extreme UV" AKA Soft X-Ray lithography."

Are not required for Flash.

Features smaller than 20nm are a liability in NAND, resulting in slower cells with lower endurance and significantly degraded cold-storage performance thanks to electron migration. There are strong arguments to stay at 40nm for the same reasons.

That's why 3D and chipstacking became the standard methods. The problems with parallax are well-defined and surmountable. Neither technology will significantly benefit from EUV litho.

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"But if the prices don't come down you'll still have a very large number of people sticking with the platter spinners and a whole stack of SSD/NAND piling up."

Prices are already coming down. The knee point for widespread adoption is about 3 times the cost of HDD and that's been surpassed at smaller sizes (you can pick up 256Gb SSD for 40quid in low end consumer drives). As soon as it happens in larger sizes, the market will buy them - the power savings in a data centre alone will pay the difference over a 5 year lifespan and our SSDs are (so far) showing failure rates about 1/5 of HDD, which translates to less labour overhead.

Due to the vast potential market, there's a non-linear relationship between price and demand. Every point decrease in price causes a multiple point increase in demand and this has shown no signs of abating for the last decade.

Once you hit a steady-state market (like RAM), then it's a different matter but you'd need to expand SSD production capability by a factor of 50+ to get close to reaching this and that's not going to happen anytime soon.

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"Remember in 2014 started with a barrel price over $100 and it was about $50 at the end of 2014"

Take a closer look at that situation. The low price was driven by conventional oil producers deliberately lowering their sale price to less than the production price of North Sea Brent Crude ($55/BBL), let alone shale ($65/bbl) or tar sands ($80-90/bbl) in order to bankrupt the tight oil producers and leave those conventional producers free to then increase prices and profit wildly.

That's classic cartel behaviour.

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Wrong about shale

A couple years ago some of the major shale players said most of their fields are profitable even with oil as low as $30-$40/bbl. Tar sands will always be high cost because of the amount of material that must be moved and the fact there are some steps requiring high temperatures even before it can enter a pipeline - and even then it is very heavy and much more expensive to refine.

The Saudis thought they could strangle US shale oil because originally it was being produced at $70/bbl, but they underestimated the ability for producers to become more efficient in their methods - both in identifying fields and extracting the oil and gas when found. The Chinese growth in oil consumption also slowed down considerably around the same time.

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Anonymous Coward

Look at it this way.

Suppose Ford makes 10 million cars per year, and charges £10,000 each for them.

If it upped its capacity to 100 million cars per year, would it be able to sell them for £2,000 each?

Answer: probably not. There is a fundamental limit to the cost of production, including such things as the raw materials, beyond which scaling up doesn't help.

I think the same is true of SSD today. If you scale up your capacity by a factor of ten, that either means building ten factories where previously you had one, or one factory which is ten times larger; but most of your input costs are the same.

That's unless you believe that the SSD market is operating as a cartel, where all the players are making 300% profit margin; but surely the temptation for one of the players to steal market share by reducing margin (or for a new player to enter the market) would be too high.

Of course, there are periodic technology advances which reduce the production cost per megabyte; but such technology advances also occur in HDDs as well.

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Re: Look at it this way.

Suppose Ford makes 10 million cars per year, and charges £10,000 each for them.

If it upped its capacity to 100 million cars per year, would it be able to sell them for £2,000 each?

However, economies of scale do play a part, just as we see in the mobile phone market.

Suppose my facility has a capacity to make 100 million HHD's per year, which I can sell for 49 USD/GBP/whatever.

If however due to the take up of SSDs my demand falls by 20~30%, I suspect my prices would have to go up significantly; altering the SSD and HDD market pricing and thus demand...

I would not be surprised if we start seeing this effect in the low end, namely your typical sub 250GB laptop drive which is a prime candidate to have the HDD replaced by a SSD.

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Anonymous Coward

> you can pick up 256Gb SSD for 40quid in low end consumer drives

Citation Needed. The cheapest I see on morecomputers.com is a Toshiba 256G at £75.46; Google Shopping finds a Sandisk 240G at £70.89

Most in this capacity are £85+

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Re: "whether the technology to build/operate FABs more cheaply is evolving too?"

Alan brown:

"" the continued efforts to finally deliver the promised "Extreme UV" AKA Soft X-Ray lithography."

Are not required for Flash.

Features smaller than 20nm are a liability in NAND, resulting in slower cells with lower endurance and significantly degraded cold-storage performance thanks to electron migration. There are strong arguments to stay at 40nm for the same reasons.

That's why 3D and chipstacking became the standard methods. The problems with parallax are well-defined and surmountable. Neither technology will significantly benefit from EUV litho.

In fact, most NAND production is done on old dry DUV tools. No need for immersion litho on NAND structures and the dry machines generally have a more robust uptime. I know of atleast one semicon fab using equipment produced in the early 2000s for NAND production.

The biggest hurdle slowing down NAND production uptick is simply available manufacturing for dry litho systems. Not many companies produce litho tools to begin with (only 3 players basically, Nikon, Canon and ASML. Of which ASML is the biggest due to better throughput performance per tool) I doubt all of them together manage more than maybe 500 tools a year in this segment.

If you really want to increase production 10 fold you need 10 times the machines already out there in the field. If there is a 1000 tools now (probably an underestimate) that means you need 10.000 systems. At current production levels it would take 20 years to meet that demand.

And that's just litho tools. The same constraints exist on all of the other equipment needed in a semicon fab. It's also not the kind of business where you can decide to increase production 10 fold in a year. I know for the tools I work on some of the critical supply chain path runs over 10 levels deep. Several of which are monopoly suppliers which won't like having to jump trough hoops just to get a small customer (for their business) some extra parts each month.

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What's in it for me?

In order to generate the capacity required to justify the new fabs and hence lower prices, NAND needs to offer enough of a benefit that a large part of the customer base will pay the higher prices, at least in the short term.

The benefit of HDD over tape was enormous, and the opening of the home PC market allowed HDD to replace FDD as well. I don't see that NAND offers the same level of additional benefit.

Not to say that we won't get there eventually...

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Re: What's in it for me?

Also, for films, music and photos etc. that you aren't currently editing, but looking at on occasion, the speed of an HDD is more than fast enough and it has the capacity to hold many times the data for the same price, so for slow sequential data access it is a cheap and relatively robust solution.

If I have a TB of films, music and photos, it is cheaper to archive them on an HDD than to buy a TB SSD, the performance will be more than adequate and there is an enormous saving at the moment.

We still use tape for backups today - we use a SAN, a backup SAN with regular images and that is written out to tape for disaster recovery / long term storage.

Currently, I see SSD for OS, applications and scratch / working data and HDD for data storage at home. I load my RAW photos onto my 250GB SSD, check them, edit them, then move those I want to keep to HDD and free up the space used. This gives me quick editing, but them cheap storage.

(In fact, the images are then copied to OneDrive and Carbonite and to a NAS for mobile availability and backup purposes.)

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Re: What's in it for me?

The benefit is speed. And for the short term that's the only benefit. But it is a *huge* difference in speed.

For bulk, HDD will spin along for a while to come - that much is certain. As others have said, perhaps SSD will be "just another tier" - after all, you don't need to stream movies from SSD, for example. In that case you're probably better off with HDD and a lot of buffer RAM.

SSD is allowing huge data densities (at a cost), but I'm not convinced there's much appetite for that at the moment. Not whilst it's cheaper to just rack up the HDDs.

As always, the market will decide. I fully expect in 20 years HDDs will be an anachronism. But then we'll all be panicking about the Unix epoch rollover. :)

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Re: What's in it for me?

"I don't see that NAND offers the same level of additional benefit."

NAND isn't fragile, has better seek times/bandwidth and it uses significantly less power than HDD as well as having vastly lower failure rates in the warranty period.

Those advantages are more than enough to offset it being more expensive than HDD in datacentres. At 3 times the price of conventional drives it becomes a no-brainer to buy it.

At twice the price of conventional drives you'll see even budget PC-markers selling it as HDD failures are a significant part of warranty costs (a single warranty claim tends to wipe out profit form sale of 10 systems) and it's cheap insurance.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What's in it for me?

> At 3 times the price of conventional drives it becomes a no-brainer to buy it.

Really?

Suppose you need 10TB for a media server or backup server. The choices are £330 for a hard drive (today's price), or £1,000 (assuming SSD drops to x3 HDD price). Are you really going to pay the extra £670 if you don't need to?

> At twice the price of conventional drives you'll see even budget PC-markers selling it as HDD failures are a significant part of warranty costs

Citation needed; your implied assertion that SSDs are more reliable than HDDs is not that simple.

There is a decent Google-authored study linked from here:

http://www.zdnet.com/article/ssd-reliability-in-the-real-world-googles-experience/

"In summary, we find that the flash drives in our study

experience significantly lower replacement rates (within

their rated lifetime) than hard disk drives. On the downside,

they experience significantly higher rates of uncorrectable

errors than hard disk drives."

So for a consumer application, which is non-RAID, an SSD will appear to fail (i.e. will lose data) more frequently than a HDD, even if the entire drive doesn't die as often.

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Re: What's in it for me?

A media server with 10TB of storage isn't mainstream. HDD will own that market for a few years. Whilst you are correct that SSD is more likely to just die without warning, you also assume there that a typical user will take action the first time they see an OS not detected press F1 message on boot or hear the click of death. Sorry, not buying it. My experience of typical users has been "oh yeah it did make a funny sound, blue screen, tell me there was no os last week, but I reboot it again and it seemed fine". Even a highly paid software engineer who I was working with (who definitely should have known better) had the click of death whilst I was checking something with her. I said that doesn't sound good. So she did absolutely nothing until a week later when it failed and she lost a day's work. So it's only an advantage if you act on it.

On price, the floor is much lower than a HDD. Whilst they can make a 32GB HDD, they can't do it at the price of the same capacity flash drive. At some point, the amount of storage that your Dell/hp whack into their desktops by default is going to be the same price point. The default purchase will then be a SSD, and you will flick to HDD if you need additional capacity. I don't think that is as far away as presented in the article.

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Re: What's in it for me?

The other major benefit for users is the durability of SSDs. The huge number of home users who move their PC whilst it's switched on is massive in my experience. Eventually HDD will be used for backups mainly.

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Re: What's in it for me?

"Suppose you need 10TB for a media server or backup server. The choices are £330 for a hard drive (today's price), or £1,000 (assuming SSD drops to x3 HDD price). Are you really going to pay the extra £670 if you don't need to?"

10TB is a tiny amount of storage in a datacentre. I have servers with more disk in them than that for local scratch space (and yes most of them are SSD, for speed)

The extra money on the disk side is offset by lower purchase costs for AC and lower power costs for both the drives and running that AC. When you have shelves of 40-60 drives drawing 1-2kW 24*7*365 and you can halve that, it's a significant operational saving.

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Re: What's in it for me?

"The benefit of HDD over tape was enormous, and the opening of the home PC market allowed HDD to replace FDD as well. I don't see that NAND offers the same level of additional benefit."

Yes, I agree, the difference isn't as a big a step change so if SSD does replace spinning rust, it will slow and gradual over many years.

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There is more to storage than performance

I am very sceptic of flash replacing disk altogteher as well. One of the points is, that flash performance is simply not needed for many applications. The video industry as an example has a highly sequential access pattern, enormous dataset sizes and a well-defined performance profile, that simply needs not be made faster. That's why they use disk for most of their data.

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Re: There is more to storage than performance

"I am very sceptic of flash replacing disk altogteher as well. One of the points is, that flash performance is simply not needed for many applications. The video industry as an example has a highly sequential access pattern, enormous dataset sizes and a well-defined performance profile, that simply needs not be made faster. That's why they use disk for most of their data."

Yep - idle power consumption is another pretty important factor, particularly in the low concurrency world of the home user.

If a flash manufacturer could get their head around that user group then we could potentially see some rather large, very lower power storage devices that don't have infinite IOPS, but are capable of pulling data in over a decent LAN connection and pushing out a couple of HD/4K streams simultaneously.

But Disk is dead - long live disk.

Tape is dead - long live tape.

SSDs are dead - long live SSD (although I suspect that SSDs are the most vulnerable of these to being replaced by something completely different)

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Re: There is more to storage than performance

This.

Every time we have one of these threads, it seems to be dominated by a lot of ridiculous commenters who think that the SSD in their laptop is somehow an analogy for worldwide storage demands.

It's not.

Those zottabytes of storage we generate a need for every year? Most of that is not speed-dependent. In fact, for the majority of it the only measure that matters at all is $/GB.Nothing else. I don't need to access an email archive from 12 years ago quickly. I just need to own it because of legal requirements, and so I need to store it as cheaply as I possibly can - and even if I'm doing so in the cloud, I'd rather be buying the cheapest nastiest chunk of storage on a JBOD rather than rapid access flash. So until flash can be sold at the same price per GB as HDD (meaning a fabrication method that allows it to surpass HDDs physical limits by a factor of ten or so, or a completely unforseeable paradigm shift in production methods, like learning how to grow it on trees or something), it just doesn't compete at all in the largest part of the storage market.

This is not going to change any time soon. SSD fabs cost around 10 times as much to set up as HDD fabs, and take four times as long to build and ramp up. That means you're waiting on ROI for a lot longer, since margins aren't much on either. IIRC, the oldest flash fabs in the world only started showing a genuine return (over setup and running costs) a couple of years ago. The majority of the industry still hasn't clawed back it's setup cost yet. HDD fabs, on the other hand, are in the black before the flash fab has even finished being built.

That fact alone means that HDD will not be disappearing in the next ten years or so. It might vanish from consumer devices, but will be ever-present in the data centre. This is not even a controversial argument in storage circles, it's just accepted and becomes more and more obvious the more you know about the subject.

The more interesting debate is whether flash will EVER replace HDD, or if something that replaces flash will show up first - something with flash's speed but with economics that allows it to be mass-produced cheaply enough to keep up with data demand.

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I've said for ages that HDD's will be around for a long time yet. Still plenty of development going, and when there isin't then the HDD manufacturers will almost certainly ditch all of their R&D and concentrate on ruthless cost cutting on producing their last generation of HDD's which will bring the price down and keep them competitive.

I'd guess that HDD's are still going to be around in 10-15 years, although they might end up being a much more niche market.

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" and when there isin't then the HDD manufacturers will almost certainly ditch all of their R&D and concentrate on ruthless cost cutting "

Guess what? That has _already_ happened - about 5 years ago.

HAMR and Shingling are the last steps. There's no more R&D for future technology coming down the pipeline. Getting HAMR from the lab to production is taking significantly longer than anticipated

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I've always thought (like most things) the transition will be gradual. Ok, I may not have known the exact reasons why but even the blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally... :)

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Basic economics

Basic economics would suggest that, at any point where companies believe a profit can be made from building another fab, then another fab will get built. So, while SSD keeps selling at a price where manufacturing is profitable companies will continue to expand capacity.

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.... coldish storage, and archival to HDD, which HDD still does better than tape.

LOL!

Really... I wonder in what way they mean?

PS Chris, where did you find this Anonymous Storage Chump, were they ex-EMC or from one of the last HDD manufacturer's left standing

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SSD's will take HDD's over when the fabbing process improves on yield and speed.

For now spinning rust trumps SSD's when it comes to the space:cost ratio.

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Flash replacing Tape too

Ignore the performance for a minute, flash needs less electricity and therefore less cooling, so it's going to make inroads into HDD and Tape purely on that basis.

Also moving data around on tapes, replacing old format tape with new format or keeping drives going are all pain points too.

So expect SSD et al manufacturing to increase. Other industries see this happen - Power (Wind/Solar replacing coal/oil/etc), Car's going electric. It's not whether more how soon...

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Re: Flash replacing Tape too

The thing is, people have found that cycling backups on occasion has benefits as well. As you move the backups from one tape generation to the next every few years, you also help to maintain its integrity by verifying the backups and resetting the cold storage clock. Plus tape technology (particularly LTO) evolved to produce additional advantages: such as high data transfer rates that can surpass most rust drives and cramming more data in the same physical size than most other formats. Plus it still has its advantages regarding cold storage (rust drives apart from RDX can't be guaranteed to keep their data intact long-term).

My thought is that flash is gaining ground on rust, but rust won't go away until flash hits a price:capacity tipping point (say twice rust's price for the same amount of storage). Until then, rust's raw capacity advantage is still useful, and although so much storage in rust has issues, there are already ways around them (most notably transfer bit rot; but that's why we have error codes).

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