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Is there a lull in the HDD industry?

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March 4, 2010 10:13:30 PM

On Jan 4, 2009 Seagate announced the 7200.12 series with their single platter 500GB drive. Well it's now March 2010 and I haven't seen 640GB single platter drives.

Anyone know why there have been no real gains in hard drive areal density for the last 14 months? Sure you can find articles about TDK platters and such, but even that is iffy and just one company.

More about : lull hdd industry

a b G Storage
March 5, 2010 1:50:04 AM

Maybe the HDD mfrs are R&D to MFRing SSDs
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March 5, 2010 5:35:27 AM

Yeah, HDD is getting phased out.
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a c 127 G Storage
March 5, 2010 1:34:57 PM

Heat-Assisted Recording, or HAR, will be the last invention to mechanical HDDs in some time. We already had Perpendicular Recording, after HAR the HDD would have seen the end of its lifecycle.

Already, we can see HDD manufacturers merging and not investing much on the long run; it's likely to be wasted money anyway. Once the cost of SSD goes down as mass volume shifts to solid state storage, there will be no stopping anymore; the costs to produce a HDD would be like SSDs now and the SSDs would be quite cheap instead.
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March 5, 2010 2:35:11 PM

Thanks for all the replies.

I agree that SSDs are on a much faster trajectory and will eventually beat mechanical HDDs in all categories, even value, but looking at the current prices and capacities of SSDs, we're still quite a few years away from that point.

PMR was touted to eventually produce drives in the 5 - 10 TB range before the technology reached its limits.
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a b G Storage
March 5, 2010 4:16:10 PM

SSDs will have a hard time beating hard drives in price per GB for quite some time to come. It's true that hard drives are stagnating a bit (although 640GB disks should definitely be doable with todays tech, as well as a couple more levels if everything works out), but even if hard drive progression completely froze, SSDs wouldn't catch up in capacities for several years, and it would be several years more before the price per GB was equivalent.
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March 5, 2010 4:28:24 PM

In terms of new technologies definitely. Aside from some minor capacity boosts the HDD industry is staying the same. All of the new technologies coming out are for solid state drives. Eventually when solid state drives catch up to hard disk drives in price and capacity the hard disk drives will die out.
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a c 127 G Storage
March 5, 2010 5:51:54 PM

cjl said:
SSDs will have a hard time beating hard drives in price per GB for quite some time to come. It's true that hard drives are stagnating a bit (although 640GB disks should definitely be doable with todays tech, as well as a couple more levels if everything works out), but even if hard drive progression completely froze, SSDs wouldn't catch up in capacities for several years, and it would be several years more before the price per GB was equivalent.

It won't be long until SSDs reach the price point where price per capacity is not that important anymore. Not everyone needs multi-terabyte storage. As soon as 100GB disks cost less than 40 euro, its over for the HDDs. The mass volume will shift from HDDs to SSDs; all small computers would be fitted with a small SSD instead.

A lot of computers don't need more than 100GB storage; although operating systems get bigger, this is not the real cause for storage demands. Same goes for CPU and GPU: sure you have very powerful ones, but for casual use a much less powerful product in this class is sufficient.

The big issue is that producing HDDs is only cheap if they can be produced on a mass scale, if the mass volume shifts from HDDs to SSDs, the prices would be reversed and HDDs would be very pricey. That would really mean the end of its lifecycle.

I still think we can see up to 5 or 10TB disks though. But we also can see development/innovation on HDDs is not progressing much at all. We're still on 500GB/platter, majority desktop drives is still 3,5" form factor, still no firmware rewrite, still no intelligent NAND to buffer writes safely, etc.
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March 13, 2010 4:28:03 AM

sub mesa said:
As soon as 100GB disks cost less than 40 euro, its over for the HDDs. The mass volume will shift from HDDs to SSDs; all small computers would be fitted with a small SSD instead.


And 640k of RAM is enough for anyone.

Back in the real world, you can't fit crap on a 100GB drive these days. Install an OS, a few games and a few video files and it's all gone. One of the fundamental rules we should have learned by now is that the amount of data people have to store expands to fit the available storage.

You're right that most PCs will probably have an SSD for a boot drive in future, and for many office PCs or basic home PCs which just do email and word processing that may well be enough, but with data requirements increasing all the time HDs still have a solid future until they hit physical limits which they can't beat. Just to give one example, Red's new $4k camera is going to burn through up to 100MB/second for video footage; that's about 20 minutes on a 100GB drive.

All that said, I have been wondering where the new disks are myself: I've been wanting to build an OpenSolaris home server and I figure I really need 4TB drives for a six disk RAIDZ2 to handle everything I'm likely to need in the next few years.
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a c 127 G Storage
March 13, 2010 7:22:22 AM

No, you're wrong. System drive capacity doesn't grow much at all. Its not like the next Windows 8 will consume 100GB, and Windows 9 would consume 500GB; it doesn't work that way. Right now the system drives i use are 8GB - 20GB per workstation, and i have 5. Most of that space is still free, also.

So the OS+Applications should be no problem. A gamer may have trouble fitting his games on SSD though. And your movies should not be stored on SSD at all; that's mass storage data. SSDs should be used as system drives; not as mass storage drives.

About your OpenSolaris setup; what's stopping you from building one? And i'm sure you will be using HDDs not SSDs for this task. Not that SSDs have any real performance benefit when it comes to mass-storage data. The reliability is nice, but then i rather spend my money on a good redundant HDD array with lots of storage. Using SSDs to store mass data is kind of besides the point and has very few advantages aside from reliability.
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March 15, 2010 5:58:50 PM

sub mesa said:
About your OpenSolaris setup; what's stopping you from building one?


16TB is about the smallest server that can hold all the data I'd like to have available online, and I'm not buying fourteen 1.5TB drives today to do what I could do with six 4TB drives in a year or two :) . Particularly as the rest of the server will be higher performance at lower cost if I wait a year or two before building it.

I guess the other issue preventing the release of larger drives right now is that 32-bit addressing with 512 byte sectors limits a typical PC to 2TB drives; we need bigger sectors and/or bigger logical block addresses to use larger drives.
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a b G Storage
March 16, 2010 10:32:56 AM

The hard disks are stagnating purposefully! A Romanian scientist and inventor, invented the so-called Hyper-CD which is able to store up to 1PB (1000TB) and he invented this years ago, in 2001 or something. Anyway I'm sure they have the technology to release a 100PB HDD but they won't do it because they are greedy bastards who want to maximize their profits. All they do is release 1TB HDD, 1.5TB HDD, 2TB, 2.5TB, etc etc Where's the progress and the evolution? Are they telling us that they are so retarded and brain limited that they can't directly come up with a 100TB HDD? Something like this: a scientists miraculousely discovers the 100TB HDD?? It is pretty obvious that HDDs are NOT getting any larger because of financial interests of all these producers.

Check this out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugen_Pavel
The technology exists, yet where is the 50TB hdd? Why am I stuck with a LAME and PATHETIC 2TB HDD??? Opps marketing interests...

Now let's get to the SSD!
SSD is also a fraud. They can make a 32GB MICROSD card but yet they can't make a 32TB "Giant 3,5inch HDD" for desktop? LOL
Why am I stuck with only 512GB 3.5inch SSD? So big in size yet so small in storage?

It's called logic! Thank you democracy! You brought us greedy corporations who only want more and more money not technological advancement! And don't even dare tell me about communism as an alternative. Communism is worse than anything!
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a c 415 G Storage
March 16, 2010 9:53:55 PM

> SSD is also a fraud. They can make a 32GB MICROSD card but yet they can't make a 32TB "Giant 3,5inch HDD" for desktop?

In my neck of the woods (Vancouver, Canada) a 32GB SD card costs a little over $100.00. Even ignoring the cost of the MUCH more sophisticated controller required for an SSD, based on that price the raw memory cost for 32TB of flash memory would be $100,000.

If they made it - would you buy it?
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March 18, 2010 5:21:00 PM

sminlal said:
In my neck of the woods (Vancouver, Canada) a 32GB SD card costs a little over $100.00. Even ignoring the cost of the MUCH more sophisticated controller required for an SSD, based on that price the raw memory cost for 32TB of flash memory would be $100,000.

If they made it - would you buy it?


To be fair, back around 1990 the company I worked for had a 128MB 'SSD' (a bunch of RAM in a box with a SCSI interface) which cost $50,000, so there are probably some people who'd pay that much money for a very fast large disk. And it did make Windows 3 start up about four times faster than a hard drive :) .

In that case I think the main market was minicomputers where 128MB of RAM cost vastly more than that and you could buy one of these devices to use as a swap disk instead giving you much of the performance gain of the increased memory at a fraction of the cost.
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a c 415 G Storage
March 18, 2010 5:43:57 PM

Well of course there are niche markets for this sort of thing. For example:

http://violin-memory.com/Flash

This is a 2U rack-mounted memory unit that can hold up to 4TB of flash memory or 500GB of DRAM. No price listed, but it's not hard to guess that it's expensive.

But the OP specifically complained about a lack of 32TB flash drives for a desktop. I guess if he really wants it then he can buy 8 of those rack-mounted units...
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a b G Storage
March 22, 2010 1:29:40 PM


The cost of production for a 32TB HDD wouldn't be that much ($100,000) because after all they would use the same elements that are found on Planet Earth, they will just arrange them (build) differently, in order to obtain a better result. They won't import materials from another planet. LOL!
You sound just like a man who 20 years ago said "a 1TB HDD is impossible and if it was possible it would cost millions of dollars" but in the end, look it's finaly available and it costs only $120, after they filled their pockets with our money.
By saying that a poor old rusty 32TB would cost 100k, is just like saying "the earth is flat".

Tell you what, where is WILL, technological achievement is possible! Look at the nazis and how they have evolved technology with the speed of light! In a few years they created what the whole humanity didn't created in thousands of years...
WHY? It's called WILL!

Why would you trust everything that the government and corporations tell you? Where is your DOUBT? Do you think everyone is so innocent, sweet and pure, and that they would want to offer us good tech at a low price but it's impossible? Haha! They just want our money! Wake up!
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a c 415 G Storage
March 22, 2010 3:28:46 PM

Quote:
You sound just like a man who 20 years ago said "a 1TB HDD is impossible...

I'm not saying that there will never be a 32TB SSD, I was just responding to "Anonymous" who claimed that someone was pulling a fast one because they're not available TODAY for a DESKTOP.

20 years from now it will be a different story.
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a c 127 G Storage
March 22, 2010 7:01:19 PM

A lot of technologies exists that may be better; but technology alone is not enough. To make this actually successful, you would need to consider:

  • Production cost
  • Cost of migrating current factories to use the new technology
  • Yields of new technology, ramp-up time to solid mass production (> 75% yields)
  • Compatibility with current technology
  • Certification, testing
  • Redeploying service centers, technical departments, support department, hotlines, etc.

    Its not so easy that you can switch any time. Therefore the technologies that are highly compatible to current production technologies will have the greatest chance of succeeding. If you have to completely build a new factory to use the new technology the chances of it actually happening are rather slim.

    Also, BER is becoming a problem with current 2TB disks. 32TB disks would need to seriously control BER; or you will have a 32TB disk with amnesia. :D 
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    a b G Storage
    March 23, 2010 7:14:19 AM

    sminlal said:
    I'm not saying that there will never be a 32TB SSD, I was just responding to "Anonymous" who claimed that someone was pulling a fast one because they're not available TODAY for a DESKTOP.

    20 years from now it will be a different story.


    I hope you're reading all what i'm telling you here and not just between the lines.

    Yes I'm sure about that but the thing is that they could produce today a 1PB HDD (1000TB) at only $1000 if they wanted to but you see, it's not profitable for them. They want to exploit us of our money not achieve human evolution.
    Same goes with CPUs. Look, it's been 5 years since we're stuck with a 4GHZ CPU. They only worked on cache, core levels, FSB bla bla but the main clock remains at only 4GHZ. That's cause they want our money and I'm sure these corporations have agreements between them NOT to advance the tech fast. By advancing it slow, they get more money.
    I saw like 5 years ago a CPU at 500GHZ, but where is it? Why is there no one producing it?
    500GHZ & 1000GHZ CPU proof that it's possible TODAY but they want it tomorrow (so they can get more of our money)
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5099584.stm

    And please don't tell me about the cost of production. I think I have clearly answered to that in my previous message.
    Colossal Storage have invented a 1,2PB (1200TB) HDD at only $750 but they don't want to sell it. I think corps such as Seagate, Western Digital, Hitachi, Samsung try to block this company from ever producing this. Money issues again.....
    http://colossalstorage.net/


    Corporations are greedy! WAKE UP!
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    a c 127 G Storage
    March 23, 2010 1:13:21 PM

    at only $1000? As you must know, the production costs are directly related to the production volume. If building a 1PB drive costs $1000; then the total costs and cost per unit would be much higher; as you would only produce a handful of them as nobody would buy them. That means the actual cost per unit may be many times higher.

    The low $40-$100 price of current HDDs is only sustainable with a high production volume, thus meaning it needs to have a high market share.

    It seems Colossal Storage is a rather specialized company, that doesn't actually sell that much. Might be a simple patents farm; get as much patterns registered for next-gen technologies, and chances are a few of those patents would make a gold mine in the future.
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    a c 415 G Storage
    March 23, 2010 3:37:50 PM

    Quote:
    ...they could produce today a 1PB HDD (1000TB) at only $1000 if they wanted to but you see, it's not profitable for them.

    I understand your argument, and I agree that this type of practice is pretty widespread in the technology industry. For example, I believe that digital camera features are deliberately rolled out on an incremental basis so as to drive repeat buying year after year.

    But your argument is essentially that we could have had terabyte drives 10 years ago, and I absolutely do not believe that. Density improvements in technologies like chip fabrication and disk drives aren't just a matter of turning some dial on a machine, it takes a *lot* of materials research, experimentation, and refinement in order to create the processes that can reliably produce robust products in volume quantities. The cutting edge of this stuff is at most 2-3 years ahead of volume production, if that.

    You may be interested to have a look at this picture series of WD's research facilities, it's quite interesting: http://www.tomshardware.com/picturestory/525-western-di...
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    a b G Storage
    March 25, 2010 7:08:09 PM

    Nice pictures. Well anyway, I want to ask you a question of logic.
    How comes that they don't want to produce water fueled cars which have been invented for years now? Because again, it's not profitable... they want to sell oil you know?

    Anyway lets get back to computers. So you trust the corporations into something like this? "Ohh my, I would like soo much to make a giant leap but you see my brain can't find a way to make giant leaps, I can only make small steps at a time, 1TB, 1,5TB, 2TB, 2,5TB". Just look at the pattern, isn't obvious that HIGH tech is possible but thy don't want it? They just want more money?
    Well after all if you were the CEO and owner of Seagate, what would you do?

    Would you release today a stunning and shocking 1PB HDD at only $500, sell like 1 billion pieces but then.... what comes after this? What will you produce anymore if you already gave your highest tech just like that? And even if you would invent another 100PB HDD, who will buy it when 1PB should be enough for a long period of time...

    Wake up, tech is possible...... it's all about profits.
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    a c 415 G Storage
    March 25, 2010 10:08:29 PM

    I guess I'll believe you when you make your fortune selling more storage for less money than everyone else. :sarcastic: 
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    a b G Storage
    March 27, 2010 1:44:32 AM

    Hard drive density increases are giving the hard drive companies fits right now. There is absolutely no way that they could come up with a remotely useful 1PB HDD anytime soon, or even 100TB. There are difficulties with adjacent track corruption, as well as error rates and head capabilities. There is no conspiracy to keep you from having incredible storage. The simple fact is that the technology just doesn't exist for drives of that size at the current time, especially not at prices anywhere remotely near $1k. As for the holographic optical storage you linked to? It's interesting, but not without its problems. Did you notice that the read speed was only 3 megabits per second for example? That's pathetic compared to a decent DVD drive, much less a good HDD. It also isn't designed to be rewritable.

    Basically, you're completely wrong. I know conspiracies must be fun and exciting, but you should learn to accept that hard drive companies are genuinely stuck sometimes, and it's not just because they want to wring more money out of you.

    As for CPUs? They are also stuck at ~4GHz for a reason. It has nothing to do with the CPU companies trying to cheat you, and everything to do with the physical capabilities of silicon chips.
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    March 27, 2010 9:22:39 AM

    Quote:
    You guys should read this and spread it:

    http://www.eutimes.net/2010/03/why-are-computers-stagna...


    The author of that article is terrible.

    Almost everything he/she wrote is propaganda.

    The 500ghz "CPU" is a transistor. A processor is made up of a digital circuit of many many transistors and the actual operating speed is much much lower. This is all besides the fact considering IBM created and researched this for wireless companies to eventually use more of the RF spectrum. A chip/transistor =/= a cpu.

    The author forgot to even mention what else goes into a SSD, and how much technology there is behind everything else besides the actual memory.

    For the high capacity discs, the whole thing is a joke. Do people who make all of these false claims even believe the crap they spew out? The disk can hold plenty of data, but can only transfer at 3Mbit/s. That's all together too slow to be worth anything other than archiving for major companies/government. The other thing about this "hyper CD-ROM" is that if this guy actually can produce this "with existing technology" and with "minimal modification to existing drives" why has it been 11 years without any major release of any sort? If I was running a company and was looking for investors, I would assume after a few years of nothing I would at least be expected to produce a working sample.

    Nuclear Batteries? Does the author realize the only applications the research was being done for was small medical devices and large scale batteries uses for space travel/deep ocean exploration? There is no way they would be cost effective for anything else and there's no saying that the research actually materialized into anything. My university discovered a way to make paper batteries. This was 2-3 years ago, and since then nothing has been done with it. Research is just that, research. It paves the way for new technology, but until someone in the industry can make a business around it, refine it, and reliably manufacture it, research remains nothing but that.
    Most of the research done is at the smallest level possible and costs much more than some of you think. To grow from the small size to a usable product is sometimes more difficult than the initial research itself.

    The point made earlier about profits determining where tech goes is false. My father worked in the industry from the early 1970's to the early 2000's, and I just talked to him about this very subject when I saw the post. He worked for both start-ups as well as larger corporations in a variety of fields as both a worker as well as a member of upper management where these business decisions would be made. This next paragraph is basically me retelling what he told me.

    When you are working in the tech industry there is always someone working in parallel to you attempting to get to market first. The real profits are made when you release a technology without any competitor and can dictate prices accordingly. When you release a product that is needed by many major companies or a large demographic of the general public, being the first to the market can be do or die for a company. People fail to realize that there is more to a product than the initial design. After a design is created it is revised many many times, and then needs to be tested extensively before anyone even thinks of a release. Then comes creating the capabilities to mass manufacture it which for some of these new technologies can be very time consuming. He said that he was a member of a couple of start ups that for whatever reason missed a couple of deadlines. After missing the deadlines the contract for the work was voided and the company folded. This isn't a problem for an IMB/Intel/SanDisk ect, but for a lot of these niche technologies the companies aren't always huge corporations.

    Do people really think that these corporations are withholding tech just to milk their current tech? If this was the case there would be a constant 1-up type of game between all of the manufactures. For example Company 1 produces a 3tb drive. Company 2 produces a 3.1tb drive. Company 1 produces a 3.2 tb drive. See? This is whats been going on for years in all areas of tech, and because they are at a very difficult point, the growth isn't happening as quickly as we are used to. In other areas it is still this same way. Look at ATI/AMD and Nvidia. There is a battle every 6 months for a new king of the GPU industry. Innovation sells units more than milking old tech. A new fastest anything will sell more than attempting to milk your old work. After spending millions on research for this new tech why would these companies then file it away and not take the PR and instant sales that a release would have?

    Sorry for writing a book and sorry for any small typos/grammar mistakes I made. I just couldn't read that article and not comment on it. I don't claim to be an expert on any of this, just a general tech enthusiast, but anyone with half a brain should understand that the people spreading this propaganda are just plain stupid.
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    March 27, 2010 11:10:07 AM

    Some things to consider:

    Water fueled car is not posibeable
    " Releasing chemical energy from water would therefore violate the first and/or second laws of thermodynamics."
    I learen chemistry , It true (Or they thought me something round in university)

    Maybe the HDD compienes take there "smart pepole" to work on SDD and not on HDD, Becasue they think its the future.

    And another thing about HDD, I can assum that the smallest part avilable to make a bit is a atom, For exemple making a hdd that one type of atom is set as 1 and another is set as 0 ,
    If you do make a HDD that bits are atom small, In 12 gram of carbon atoms you can pot 6×10^23 bit ,
    6*10^23/8/1000=7.5*10^19 kilobyte
    7.5*10^19/1000=7.5*10^16 megabyte
    7.5*10^16/1000=7.5*10^13 gigabyte
    7.5*10^13/1000=7.5*10^10 terabyte
    7.5*10^10/1000 = 75000000 PetaByte
    I would assume that this is hard to produce, But I think that with this much of bytes they dont even need to make a option of rewrite...
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    March 27, 2010 11:20:34 AM

    no_alone said:
    Some things to consider:

    Water fueled car is not posibeable
    " Releasing chemical energy from water would therefore violate the first and/or second laws of thermodynamics."
    I learen chemistry , It true (Or they thought me something round in university)

    Maybe the HDD compienes take there "smart pepole" to work on SDD and not on HDD, Becasue they think its the future.

    And another thing about HDD, I can assum that the smallest part avilable to make a bit is a atom, For exemple making a hdd that one type of atom is set as 1 and another is set as 0 ,
    If you do make a HDD that bits are atom small, In 12 gram of carbon atoms you can pot 6×10^23 bit ,
    6*10^23/8/1000=7.5*10^19 kilobyte
    7.5*10^19/1000=7.5*10^16 megabyte
    7.5*10^16/1000=7.5*10^13 gigabyte
    7.5*10^13/1000=7.5*10^10 terabyte
    7.5*10^10/1000 = 75000000 PetaByte
    I would assume that this is hard to produce, But I think that with this much of bytes they dont even need to make a option of rewrite...


    I'm not backing up anyone who made claims in the thread, but I believe when people speak of a car powered by water they are actually referring to a car run on hydrogen produced from the electrolysis of water.
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    a c 415 G Storage
    March 27, 2010 3:28:14 PM

    Quote:
    You guys should read this and spread it:
    http://www.eutimes.net/2010/03/why-are-computers-stagna...
    I think the following quote pretty much sums up the technical credibility of this article:
    Quote:
    Not to mention that the 64GB Micro SD card is not far from being released, and if you put 2283 64GB cards together you would get: 146TB SSD but yet the largest SSD available is at only 512GB! Pathetic, isn’t it?
    First of all, the author is obviously ignoring the challenge of putting over 2,000 memory chips into a product that normally fits into a 2.5" or 3.5" hard drive form factor. Secondly, he's wrong - in fact larger SSDs ARE available, it's just that they're very expensive - as you would expect if you multiply the cost of a single 64GB SD card by 2,283 (where the heck did *that* number come from?). The Violin memory applicance I linked to above is an example of a solid state memory device that can hold up to 4TB. Of course it needs a 2" rack-mounted unit to hold that much storage.
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    April 7, 2010 4:28:03 AM

    Quote:
    The hard disks are stagnating purposefully! A Romanian scientist and inventor, invented the so-called Hyper-CD which is able to store up to 1PB (1000TB) and he invented this years ago, in 2001 or something. Anyway I'm sure they have the technology to release a 100PB HDD but they won't do it because they are greedy bastards who want to maximize their profits. All they do is release 1TB HDD, 1.5TB HDD, 2TB, 2.5TB, etc etc Where's the progress and the evolution? Are they telling us that they are so retarded and brain limited that they can't directly come up with a 100TB HDD? Something like this: a scientists miraculousely discovers the 100TB HDD?? It is pretty obvious that HDDs are NOT getting any larger because of financial interests of all these producers.

    Check this out:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugen_Pavel
    The technology exists, yet where is the 50TB hdd? Why am I stuck with a LAME and PATHETIC 2TB HDD??? Opps marketing interests...

    Now let's get to the SSD!
    SSD is also a fraud. They can make a 32GB MICROSD card but yet they can't make a 32TB "Giant 3,5inch HDD" for desktop? LOL
    Why am I stuck with only 512GB 3.5inch SSD? So big in size yet so small in storage?

    It's called logic! Thank you democracy! You brought us greedy corporations who only want more and more money not technological advancement! And don't even dare tell me about communism as an alternative. Communism is worse than anything!


    Yes and the evil greedy corporations also have a 100m/g carburetor that they have kept hidden from the car manufacturers since the 1970's! I have heard about it over and over again! Damn evil capitalism.

    Except that it's a bunch of crock. If those "greedy" corporations have competition they will sell denser media. Your theory sounds good until you apply capitalistic logic to it at which point it doesn't earn it's wage.
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