Future Storage Trends - Page 3


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At the same time, the performance of SSDs is much better than hard drives — although the capacity is not quite the same nor is the price. The $/GB of SSDs has consistently been much higher than hard drives, but with new technologies such as 3D NAND chips and TLC (Triple Level Cells) there has been a bit of change.

To get an idea of the $/GB for both hard drives and SSDs, Newegg was searched on Feb. 13 for the least expensive SATA hard drives and SATA SSDs. These are consumer storage devices, but the intent is to get a feel for the trends. The results are in the table below:

Table 1: $/GB for hard drives and SSDs
Drive Capacity (GB)SSD $/GB5400 RPM
Hard Drive
7200 RPM
Hard Drive
120 GB0.3332
128 GB0.3358
240 GB0.2499
480 GB0.2291
500 GB0.03990.0699
512 GB0.2343
1,000 GB (1 TB)0.22990.0445
2,000 GB (2 TB)0.32890.02490.0269
3,000 (3 TB)0.02990.0269
4,000 (4 TB)0.03040.0399
5,000 GB (5 TB)0.03390.0399
6,000 GB (6 TB)0.03580.0391
8,000 (8 TB)0.02780.0549
8,000 (8 TB)
archive (SMR)

The table indicates that the hard drives are roughly an order of magnitude less expensive than SSDs on a $/GB basis. Hard drives also have larger capacities than SSDs, at least for consumer drives. Recently, Intel and Micro announced that 10TB SSDs will be available.

However, one trend that the table is not presenting is the price drops of SSDs. Just a few years ago, the average $/GB for an SSD was about $1/GB, even for consumer drives. Now some of them are below $0.25/GB. Given that the sequential performance of an SSD is about 5-10 times that of a hard drive and the random IOPS performance is 3-5 orders of magnitude greater than a hard drive, SSDs are becoming extremely popular as a storage medium.

What Does the Future Hold?

A quick summary:

  • Burst buffers will likely become the very fast layer of storage for systems, replacing parallel file systems that are external to the system.
  • The introduction of Burst Buffers will likely cause a consolidation in the middle layer of storage.
  • New archive media that have a very high density and a very long life are being productized.
  • Hard drives are not increasing in performance and with SMR drives the random IO write performance is decreasing.
  • Hard drives are still the least expensive storage media that isn't archive oriented.
  • SSDs are rapidly coming down in price and the capacities are quickly increasing.

Putting these trends together points to the fact that hard drives, as they exist today, are not evolving at the same pace as other storage solutions. They are being squeezed by much higher-performing technologies such as burst buffers, and from the bottom by tape, and most likely a new media such as glass.

Hard drives will be in use for a long time. They have a wonderful $/GB ratio so if capacity and reasonable performance are important then hard drives are a great solution. However, just like Happy Days, hard drives may have already jumped the shark.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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