Is flash memory the beginning of the end of the hard drive?
9/13/2005 1:58:03 PM, by [Ken "Caesar" Fisher](http://arstechnica.com/wankerdesk/bios/caesar.html)
Will the future see laptops and possibly even desktop computers sporting flash memory as opposed to hard drives? Samsung, the clear leader in flash memory technology, is certainly dropping hints.
Dr. Chang-Gyu Hwang, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics’ Semiconductor Business, says that the storage industry is rushing headlong into flash solutions, and that trend isn’t going to change. “The future of NAND is setting the stage for an irreversible shift in the design of digital end products as NAND becomes the key storage medium for data in virtually any portable form,” he said. “NAND flash will eventually replace other storage mediums, especially those used in mobile products, creating a “Flash Rush,” as NAND continues to register an unprecedented surge in demand as the backbone of the mobile electronics era.”
Hwang’s comments come alongside the announcement of a 16 Gigabit (2GB) flash NAND chip that could be used to create flash memory cards with as much as 32GB of storage. That would make for one sweet iPod nano, if that’s your kink.
Despite these impressive advancements in flash technology, I wouldn’t expect to see flash taking up residence outside of the gadget markets any time soon, aside from a few niche implementations in the subnotebook arena. While 32GB is technically enough to support a laptop, it’s a paltry amount of storage compared to what the hard drive manufacturers are putting out. You could rig up a clustered solutionn, but efforts so far have proven expensive.
Then, there’s the rate of progress. Hwang himself has said that storage density is doubling every 12 monthsâ€”quite an impressive rate. However, this also puts an announcement of a 128GB solution sometime in 2007, but with the time between design and mass production roughly 12 months, we wouldn’t see them in 2008, at the earliest. The 32GB cards aren’t expected until next year, so don’t feel so bad if you’ve recently bought flash storage.
Solid-state storage such as flash is mighty attractive, but for the next few years, the rate of progress won’t be enough to really push out a feasible solution. In the meantime we can dream about what it would be like to have an instant-on storage solution with practically no seek time. Geek pr0n…
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bolded for emphasis…
i agree with you Kenshin regarding their first target market…not even sure i can fathom how big (and how fast) HDDs will be by 2008…