In the future, we'll see other developments, such as vastly improved scale-out file systems, longer-term disk archiving, better storage management control and greatly improved capacity on the media. Storage media, including spinning-disk hard drives, solid-state disks, digital tape and optical disks, continue to become more capacious (and run cooler)as engineers and manufacturers continue to achieve performance improvements. Markedly better networking and processing speeds are also instrumental in these upgrades.
Using today's standard storage tech, there have been some advancements that bear notice.
NAND flash will continue its journey from handheld devices into the data center. "The use of NAND flash in general is a continuing enterprise trend," said The 451 Group storage analyst Henry Baltazar. "MLC [multi-level cell] flash-most often used in consumer products-is coming more into use for enterprise applications. And it's less expensive than SLC [single-level cell] flash.
"Take a vendor like SanDisk, for example. Their high-end SAS [serial-attached storage] drives using SLC are priced around $20 per gigabyte. If you look at the MLC variety, that's priced around $10 per gigabyte."
PCIe Moves to Mainstream
Also, PCIe cards are becoming mainstream. Analyst Jim Handy of Objective Analysis said his firm forecasts that the NAND flash-powered PCIe interface will become dominant in the enterprise solid-state disk market in 2012, with unit shipments greater than the combined shipments of its SAS and Fibre Channel counterparts.
In 2004, Intel launched PCIe, an expansion-card standard based on point-to-point serial links rather than a shared parallel bus architecture. It's designed to replace the older PCI, PCI-X and AGP standards. PCIe-based flash storage has the ability to bypass traditional storage overhead by reducing latencies, increasing throughput and enabling efficient processing of massive quantities of data.