The data storage industry is undergoing dramatic changes and an evolution process, that is occurring in the near, medium and long term. The new storage technologies will offer our industry cheaper, faster, and more energy efficient storage. So what does the future of data storage hold?
Considering the amount of the date we can store today, it’s difficult to forecast exactly what we’ll be able to do in ten years, but it’s really exciting to think about this. Let’s look at some of the emerging trends and new technologies in data storage.
Ethernet hard drives
In 2014 Seagate announced the creation of a Ethernet-connected Kinetic HDD, that should increase storage application performance by four times compared to the existing solutions on the market. With the help of Kinetic Open Storage Platform it will be possible to allow an application and hosts to communicate directly over TCP/IP data centers using an open source object API.
The costs, associated with storage servers, software and their administration will also be decreased, while computing power will be increased. So Seagate identifies object data storage, cloud storage arrays, and cloud backup storage as the Fbest-fit applications.
HGST, a department of Western Digital (WD), introduced its 10TB helium-filled hard drive in 2014. The benefits of filling a drive with helium rather than air are that it makes it possible to increase the capacity with less generation of heat and 23% less energy consumption. The 7200 RPD helium-filled hard drive is 4-5 degrees colder than an air-filled drive, since helium has a higher thermal conductivity than air.
With this technology, all of HGST’s enterprise drives will be filled with helium by 2017.
Shingled magnetic recording (SMR)
Shingled magnetic recording is a technique that uses overlapping data tracks instead of parallel tracks with a gap between them. It allows increasing the storage capacity by 25%.
But there are some problems with SMR. When data is written to the track, all overlapping tracks have to be rewritten as well, so SMR disks could suffer from poor write performance. Seagate and WD have been investigating into this technology, but its implementation is limited because of this performance issue.
60TB heat-assisted magnetic recording drives
Nowadays, high-capacity hard drives use a technology called perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) that could provide around 750GB per square inch on a disk planner.
Both WD and Seagate are working on drives that use a technology called head-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) to replace PMR. HAMR uses a small laser to heat the part of the disk that is about to be written to. It allows increasing the potential areal density to about 5,000GB per square inch. And that means that it’s possible to get a 3.5” disk with a capacity of 60TB.
HAMR drives could appear on the market as earlier as this year, but most of all the first ones won’t be capable with 60TB.
Hybrid drives with phase change memory and NAND technology
Phase change memory (PCM) is measured nowadays as an alternative to NAND (flash) memory that is used in solid state drives (SSDs). PCM uses a chalcogenide alloy in two physical states – crystalline and amorphous. The resistance of the alloy in these two states is different, so it can be used to store binary information.
The problem with PCM is that it has a high write latency, but IBM has showed that a hybrid device that uses PCM, NAND and DRAM on a single controller can work up to 275 times faster than a standard SSD device. IDM expects that devices with this hybrid technology could be available at the end of this year.
In 2014, IBM and Fujifilm presented a cost-efficient linear magnetic particulate tape that could save up to 86 billion bits per square inch. With that density, it’s possible to make a cartridge that can store up to 154TB of uncompressed data. This technology could be commercially available in about 8-10 years.
To achieve such high areal density, Fujifilm has developed Nanocubic technology that enables them to create ultra-thin magnetic tape.
It’s a known fact that scientists can work with DNA from mammoths, so there’s no question that this genetic storage can last a long time. Also scientists in the UK have demonstrated how DNA can be used for storing archive data that can be read back with 100% accuracy.
One gram of DNA may be able to hold 2000TB of data. Nevertheless DNA data storage is too expensive for commercial use, but in the future it could be useful for archiving government data and other information that needs to be achieved for long term.