New storage media are evolving rapidly, while old standards just keep on working.
Storage is continuing
to develop at a breathless pace-both in the use of advanced materials and in
the way those materials are being applied.
New products and services
involving NAND (Not AND) flash, Peripheral
Component Interconnect express (PCIe)
cards, image cloning, storage pooling, automation, improved capacity management
and enhanced aerial density on digital tape are coming into the market from
established companies and startups alike. These technologies will provide the
foundation for future storage IT.
hard-disk drives and long-term table storage will remain in wide use for
at least the next 10 to 20 years, as much as the solid-state storage
like to see both technologies fade away, according to most analysts.
Enterprises have too much IT capital
invested in those technologies, and
they work well enough in their established applications. Besides, the
storage technology isn't ready for prime time yet.
Phase-change Memory in the Offing
One of the futuristic
technologies is a hot, but not exactly new one called phase-change memory
(PCM), a potential replacement for NAND flash solid-state storage. Around for
more than 40 years, PCM is a key component of rewritable CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray
storage disks that use laser optics. But only in the last decade has research
by IBM, Intel, Micron (through its PCM-dedicated Numonyx arm) and Hynix showed
that PCM also can serve well in the
digital data storage sector.
Flash disks are limited to holding one bit of data per storage
cell. About six months ago, however, IBM's PCM research team in Zurich found a
way to enable each PCM cell to hold multiple data bits securely; previously,
bits often became lost or corrupt at unpredictable times.
"We've now addressed this problem, and we believe we've solved
it," Dr. Haris Pozidis, manager of memory and probe technologies at IBM
Research in Zurich, told eWEEK
Pozidis said this latest
development can lead to solid-state
chips that can store as much data as NAND flash disks, which now are up
in capacity, but deliver about 100 times faster data movement speed to
go with a much longer lifespan. "Today's enterprise flash can endure
about 30,000 read/write cycles; today's PCM chips can do in excess of 10
million cycles," Pozidis said.
That's magnitude-scale improvement. Performance like that looks
awfully good to storage manufacturers and enterprise IT decision-makers.
However, Pozidis and other experts have said that PCM is still three to five
years away from being productized. There's much more testing to do, and
manufacturers have yet to figure out how to produce it on a mass scale.