Is optical media about to die soon? (part 3)

I just posted the article Is optical media about to die soon? (part 3).

CMAI, a petrochemical consulting firm, published the results of a research about phenol capacity in the Next 5 Years. Phenols are a necessary component in the production of polycarbonate, an…

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I don’t seriously think, with all that production requirements, that flash memory could ever reach the price of optical media. The durability and storage of flash media is questionable in my point of view, and so is optical. For now, I still rely on hard disks the most, and I’ll keep changing and transferring every 5 years or so to keep my data intact, but even with a big demand and supply of hard disks - the price per GB is almost 5 times more expensive than optical. Not to mention that the price per GB for flash is almost 40 times more per GB for hard disks - making it in total 200 times more expensive than optical disks. Flash memory can’t always be trusted to hold its data - and neither can any media - but as its density increases, corruption is more possible. So called solutions such as redesigning the flash media from Charge-Trap mode to Floating Gate mode have “solved” the problem, according to Samsung, but I really do wonder how small the etching process can get, and how this adversely affects rewrite-ability and data retention. After all, some people have already experienced corrupting/dying MP3 sticks and mass storage devices. Even if it were MLC flash, it’s rated for 100,000 rewrites. Say if the complaints came 4 years after manufacture, that’s at least 68 rewrites in the same spot in A DAY! Mine died within 2 years … and I’m sure the flash didn’t get such a workout - and considering most controllers have flash levelling technology which aims not to wear out a single spot too many times - it just seems the stated lifetime just isn’t true.

Submitted a bit too quick in fact. While discs can degrade, get scratched - if you don’t rewrite them - i.e. they are not rewritable - then it seems much better. Flash could die in a static shock where as discs seem all the more durable, provided you be careful with them. Hard disks don’t mind the rewrites at all, they’re fast and great - that’s why i prefer them now. I’ve got drives at 14,000 hours of hard work in 3 yrs and still going without a bad sector. Video encoding and editing places a lot of seek commands and reads and writes - this stresses the drive, yet it’s healthy. I don’t see flash memory reaching this level of speed or overwriteability or value. New multi-channel flash memory devices aimed to make higher speeds [e.g. 133x cards have 2x 66x Flash modules in parallel] make things worse, as one chip that goes bad wrecks the rest of it, and flash levelling would make that bad spot dance around the card … Also I wonder how well data recovery would work, if at all with flash memory. If the controller fails, or it’s experienced an overvoltage I think it’s bye bye since it’s an IC based component - with a hard disk - the platters are intact. Recovery of multi-channel [newer designs - say samsung’s 32GB SSD may have 8 channels+ to keep the speed competitive with HDD] devices might be difficult without documentation on how the bit-distribution is - and with many modules just a poor desoldering job could kill one chip and eveyrthing’s gone. While it’s not that I don’t embrace flash, it’s that I feel that it’s still a little too farfetched for flash to take over from HDD’s and Optical yet. It’s still too complex, too expensive, too unreliable and not durable enough yet in my opinion. While optical isn’t either, we do hope that there’s a chance for recovery - say our PI/PIF testing and for hard disks there’s always SMART data - but for a flash disk, failure is random. The only place I think flash is needed is ruggedised or portable environments and for small-scale code handling where rewrites are low/unnecessary. As for primary storage - flash has a long way to go.

When the cost of flash memory is equal to the cost of optical media, I will believe that optical media will die.

CD and DVD are too big and too vulnerable. NAND has the most profits in the immediate 10 years or so. Though NAND speed at the moment has hardly reached 50MB/s, it will soon. It’s very possible NAND will in just a few years begin to replace, and I mean replace, HDD drives employed in laptops, desktops, workstations, servers, handhelds, and all kinds of other types of media devices. Why else invest in NAND at all? Think about it from investor’s point of view. The article is about the future of storage, not the past of CD and DVD that have made CDFreaks forum boards filled with PIE/PIF scan images. Billions of consumers are going to choose flash, not optical, media because of simplicity.