January 5, 2007

Flash drives as hard-drive replacements

SanDisk is pushing a 32-gig flash disk that costs multiple hundreds of dollars more than a large hard drive. (Here’s The Register’s take on it.) One figure they cite is a 100-fold+ improvement in access speed. The speed difference between disk and silicon, of course, is something I’ve focused on in my research into memory-centric data management, and also in some of the work on data warehouse appliances as well. They are proposing this as the entire fixed memory for laptops. And in a much cheaper vein, Nicholas Negroponte is proposing a diskless architecture for the 100-dollar laptop.

But to me, the really interesting future here is PCs with removable persistent solid-state storage. I wrote about the subject a year ago, and I just want to take this opportunity to remind people that’s it’s a desirable and not-implausible way for personal computing and consumer electronics to evolve. If the storage part of the system can be separated out, what you’re left with is mainly the human-facing I/O and the processing power to drive that. So from where I sit, portable external storage could drive an explosion in interesting and useful electronic device form factors.


2 Responses to “Flash drives as hard-drive replacements”

  1. Arnold Angel on September 15th, 2007 12:33 am

    I couldn’t agree more. the computer maker who brings out the first solid
    state, removeable memory laptop will trigger an explosion in small powerful
    computers that can interchange the memory section with other devices. The
    possibilities are limitless. With very small flash drives at 8GB for about
    $70. We are not far away! I just bought a laptop, but I would expect my next
    one to use flash only. (5 years)

  2. DBMS2 — DataBase Management System Services » Blog Archive » Database management system architecture implications of an eventual move to solid-state memory on April 25th, 2008 12:07 am

    […] I’ve pointed out in the past that solid-state/Flash memory could be a good alternative to hard disks in PCs and enterprise systems alike. Well, when that happy day arrives, what will be some of the implications for database management software architecture? […]

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