Friday, January 05, 2007

The Crash of the Hard Drive

It looks like computer hard drives are about to go the way of the buggy whip.

SanDisk has introduced a flash memory-based drive for laptop computers.

The 32GB SanDisk SSD UATA 5000 is only a 1.8" form-factor drive, but it has mighty impressive specifications despite its size: 62MB/sec sustained throughput, 0.12ms average access time, and it draws only 0.4 watts. This means that the SanDisk SSD has an average access time that is more than 100 times faster than any notebook hard drive, and it draws 50 to 87 percent less power than most notebook hard drives. While its sustained throughput is roughly on par with most notebooks, it should be noted that the throughput is the same regardless of whether it is reading at the beginning or the end of the drive. (Hard disks typically have higher throughput rates on their outer tracks and slower throughput rates on their inner tracks.) In addition, everything is solid-state, so there are no moving parts. Even if you are the type to drop or bang your laptop around on a regular basis, there are no hard disk heads to crash into spinning platters.
The article notes that at $600, the flash laptop drive is expensive, but that the cost can be expected to dive to mass-market affordability in a couple of years.

If they can make it work for laptops, desktops won't be far behind. If I were in the hard-drive manufacturing or distribution business, I'd be looking to diversify.