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Why the future of everything is the hard drive

May 14th, 2006 · No Comments

Mini Hard drive

Forget discs and format wars, the future of everything is the hard drive. Or at least that’s the way it’s beginning to seem to me.
Hard drives are already the workhorses of the computer market and increasingly they are taking that role in the consumer electronics arena too. The latest industry figures indicate that HDD sales jumped 23 percent in 2005, up from 305 million units to 376 million, and the technology continues to be a hotbed of innovation.
First the HD folks shrunk the package so that now you can get a cute little spinning disk unit that’s about the size of your thumbnail (0.85 inch). Then they found ways to write on the sides of the grooves so you can pack in even more data (stuff).
HDD techies have developed technology that can withstand 1,000Gs of force when they are operating and 2,000Gs when they aren’t operating. Some have build-in intelligence so that they lock down when they suddenly drop as little as four inches!
Now, Samsung and Microsoft are about to unveil the first hybrid hard drive (HHD), designed to reduce the boot time for PCs and laptops. The technology will make its bow at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, May 24.
HHD will work in conjunction with Microsoft’s ReadyDrive software. The HHD is part flash, part magnetic disk drive and all funk. It uses its static memory component to boot the PC. The technology will be introduced primarily on the first Vista machines. Also coming soon are flash-driven static disk drives (SDD), although they’re looking to pricey to commercialize at present.
But the trick is not to be seduced by their power. Hard drives crash and have a habit of taking your data and content with them, always at the worst possible moments. And they’re not always practical. You’re not going to send mom and dad your family holiday photos, the wedding video or ballet recital movie on a flash or HDD, are you? You’re not going to sell or distribute your new music mix or self-produced movie to thousands of folks on HDD.
That’s left to the lowly optical disc. It may not be fashionable, but it is cheap. It’s also reliable and versatile and can be played nearly everywhere. Do you really need to invest in new HD disc formats when you can put up to two hours of very good video on a disc, hundreds to thousands of photos and filing cabinets of data? Probably not. By Andy Marken

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