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Cringely's Shameless Self-Promotion 225

Posted by Zonk
from the buy-the-cringely-t-shirt dept.
wild_berry writes "The latest edition of Bob Cringely's column at pbs.org, entitled Shameless Self-Promotion: Bob's Disk Drive is up. He's talking about replacing the glass or metal platters in present hard disk drives with foil platters in order to save energy." From the article: "The materials cost more but we use so much less of it (the disk is so incredibly thin) that the total material cost is substantially less. This 'floppy' material has the same kind of magnetic coatings used on standard disk drives and our drives live on the same technology growth curve as those others. The way we obtain greater storage density is simply by putting more platters in a drive (say 12-15 instead of 4-5 in an enterprise 3.5-inch drive) because they are much thinner and can be stacked closer together. The only parts of the drive that are significantly different are the platters and the heads and the heads vary only in having an extra slot."
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Cringely's Shameless Self-Promotion

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  • Quick... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:15AM (#16609340)
    Get out the tin foil...umm.. okay, it's alrealdy in there
    • If I'm reading the article correctly, the claim seems to be that the lighter platters will save energy?

      How?

      With my primitive understanding of physics, the power required to keep something at constant velocity is basically the sum of the parasitic losses (in this case, aerodynamic and frictional losses). Changing the weight of the platter does not have much impact on energy consumption *except* for periods of acceleration (e.g. - the first couple of seconds during power-on).

      Has my logic failed me here? How
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I think the frictional losses in disk drives are significant. Look at how much power is used by drives -- that's not the electronics, and I don't think the seek arm uses that much because it is so light. But I have never seen an actual breakdown of seek arm vs spin motor. I do know that the spin motors suck up a lot of power. There have been advances in bearings, but aero drag can't be reduced.
  • Too floppy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by the_povinator (936048)
    I should read the FA, but what's to stop his platters from flopping all over the place?
    • "I should read the FA, but what's to stop his platters from flopping all over the place?"

      Just keep 'em spinning all the time to keep them in a nice flat disc.
      • I would assume that means they have to be powered 100% of the time, which would keep them out of a whole lot of applications.
    • Centrifugal force (Score:5, Informative)

      by Xocet_00 (635069) on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:20AM (#16609420)
      Ideally, the disks would be spinning so quickly that the outward force would keep them almost perfectly flat. Assuming the disks were very smooth and the internal atmosphere of the drive is gas-only (no dust - a safe assumption) there would hopefully be very little turbulence within the drive to cause fluctuations in the flatness of each platter.

      In my lab we coat floppy materials (like plastic) in a spin coater at several thousand RPM. At that speed the disk may aswell be rigid.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by 91degrees (207121)
        Assuming the disks were very smooth and the internal atmosphere of the drive is gas-only (no dust - a safe assumption)

        From the article: "the nature of our flying heads is such that dust is sucked away from the head-disk interface, meaning the drives do not have to be assembled in a clean room.". So presumably any dust that does drift onto the platter simply doesn't cause enough of a turbulance problem.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by attonitus (533238)
        Turbulence isn't created by dust, it's a feature of the non-linearity of the Navier Stokes equations.

        The arm holding the read/write head sits in the middle of what would otherwise be a nicely rotating flow between the platters. The Reynolds number for flow between platters in a disk drive is going to be something like 30 m/s * 0.001 m / 2E-5 m^2/s = 1500 >> 1, so vortices will be shed off the back of the arm. Which basically means turbulence.

        Incidentally, this is currently one of the limits to
        • by attonitus (533238)
          ... and, now that I've read the article more carefully, it seems like what Cringely's talking about solves that problem in a novel way. Rather than fighting the fluid dynamics (by making the arm stiffer), it seems that they exploit it:

          "...the flexible metal foil yields to the head, pushed away by a layer of compressed air, rather than being struck by it."

          My guess is that, at least for data centre applications, the power saving he claims for this design does not come from the lower mass of the platte
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by drinkypoo (153816)
        Assuming the disks were very smooth and the internal atmosphere of the drive is gas-only (no dust - a safe assumption)

        Uh no, not a safe assumption. Unless you can protect it from all corrosion - clearly not possible - then the interior of the device will actually produce dust... especially since there's a bunch of moving parts.

      • by k2r (255754) on Friday October 27, 2006 @12:34PM (#16610562)
        Now imagine what happens if you tilt the drive.
        The hub now has to transfer a force rectangular to the foil-plattern's surface - fast - to tilt the rotating plattern inside the drive.
        But the foil-plattern want to stay where they are (think bicycle wheel)

        A foil doesn't provide much resistance rectangular to it's surface. The process is called "folding" if done exactly or "crumpling and head crashing" if done in a foil-platter-drive. Maybe it would even be called "cringling" then?

        Do I make any sense to you?

        Coincidently the CAPTCHA for this posting was "weakness"
      • There is no such thing as centrifugal force [xkcd.com].

        I think you'd best watch what you say on slashdot. Some engineer might hear you utter those words, and then horrible things could happen. One time I heard a story about a guy who said something about centrifugal force while he was having dinner in a restaurant; an engineer happened to hear him and he killed the whole town in a fit of rage!

        *hides*
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) *
      I should read the FA, but what's to stop his platters from flopping all over the place?

      According to TFA, they'd use extremely strong materials like Stainless Steel or Titanium to ensure the rigidity of the disks. They claim that this would be just as shock resistant as a Flash drive, but with faster seek time. (i.e. the lighter weight would mean less inertia to fight against)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ePhil_One (634771)
        What about gyroscopic forces? turn the drive 90 degrees and teh spinning disks will want to turn a different way. Light weight helps reduce this, but it sstill must be strong enough not to shear itself off the spindle....
        • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:30AM (#16609612) Homepage Journal
          it sstill must be strong enough not to shear itself off the spindle....

          *ahem*

          According to TFA, they'd use extremely strong materials like Stainless Steel or Titanium to ensure the rigidity of the disks. They claim that this would be just as shock resistant as a Flash drive, but with faster seek time. (i.e. the lighter weight would mean less inertia to fight against)
          • Yes, but what about gyroscopic forces? :-p
            • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:36AM (#16609674) Homepage Journal
              Yes, but what about gyroscopic forces?

              I'm not sure. Did I mention that they'll use the strength of Titanium or Stainless Steel to ensure rigidity similar to that of thicker aluminum or glass platters?

              *snap*

              I knew I forget something. :P
              • According to TFA they actually exploit the fact that the foil is NOT as rigid as current platters to actually decrease head crashes. The foil would flex away from the air cushioning created by the head.
                • According to TFA they actually exploit the fact that the foil is NOT as rigid as current platters to actually decrease head crashes.

                  Indeed. The idea is that it will be able to "give" a little to prevent crashes, while still being strong/rigid enough not to shear off from gyroscopic forces. If one platter were to actually fold into another (or worse, the casing) at >10,000 RPM, then lots of bad things would happen to the poor drive.
                • Uh, PP explicitly states that they'll use titanium or some other high-strength material. It's not likely to "flex", especially when you consider that modern disk heads are about 1/3 sq. cm. And if it could flex from air pressure, then I'm sure it would wrap itself right around the arm the first time it was tilted while in operation.
            • by Dun Malg (230075)
              According to TFA, they'd use extremely strong materials like Stainless Steel or Titanium to ensure the rigidity of the disks.
    • by daBass (56811)
      Ever taken apart a 3.5" floppy? How "floppy" is that disk really? I assume this will be much the same...
      • I have a bunch of 3.5 inch floppys sitting on my desk and decided to take apart a TDK disk. I chose the TDK disk over the memorex because I have only four memorex disks and nine, well, eight now, TDK disks.

        The disk is very floppy. The metal center is the only rigid part. The floppy plastic of which the disk is composed does not flop because it is too small, measuring only 1 3/16 of an inch from the metal hub.

  • by Orange Crush (934731) on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:16AM (#16609362)
    The materials cost more but we use so much less of it (the disk is so incredibly thin) that the total material cost is substantially less.

    And what do these thinner materials and more closely-spaced heads do for the MTBF and error rate in such drives?

    • And don't these extra heads cost money, too? Hmmmmm. Wait, All those extra heads need transceivers, etc. No, I don't see this costing less.
    • Don't forget the benefits from recycling all those old floppy disk jokes, though - the comedic savings to society as a whole would be huge...
    • Part of the reasons the current material is as thick as it is, is so it doesn't wobble under speed, which can be disasterous. The reason that 10k and 15k drives use smaller diameter platters is because of the wobble issue. As such, I really wouldn't put that much faith in the Cringely column yet because I don't see where in the article that this was addressed.
      • Young's modulus:

        aluminum: 69

        common glass: 70 to 95

        stainless steel: 190 to 200

        titanium: 406

        So, titanium is almost 6 times stiffer than aluminum. I'm guessing that stainless steel has fair internal damping, which might reduce wobble propagation. (I'm not a mechanical engineer.)

      • I think he talks about how the foil disks are very flexible and therefore can avoid head collisions and return to their previous state very quickly. I assume this flexibility and very low mass would also take care of wobbling.

        I'd like to know how resistant the disks are to stretching over time due to the very high RPMS.
        • by honkycat (249849)
          Stretch is an interesting concern. As long as it's relatively uniform (so the disk remains nearly circular), you could probably cope with fairly large size changes by encoding tracking information either as additional data or in the modulation scheme. You've already got to deal with the varying linear velocity as you slew in and out, in addition to variability in the motor's spin rate. It'd be similar to dealing with Doppler in radio communications, albeit on a somewhat faster time scale. Since the data
    • And what do these thinner materials and more closely-spaced heads do for the MTBF and error rate in such drives?

      I have that information stored here on an Iomega Zip disk. Let me just pop it in so I can look it up...

      *click*

      *click*

      *click*

      Aw fuck.
  • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:17AM (#16609380) Homepage Journal
    ...would be the shock resistence of the material. Glass and metal platters aren't going to fold over or have the head rip through them because you hit a nasty pothole. In reading the article, however, I found this statement:

    Our 10-gigabyte 0.85-inch drive can spin up, read or write data, then shut down again, all in less time than it takes to perform the same task using flash while being just as resistant to shock damage and more resistant to heat.

    That's quite a bold claim! If his claims are accurate, then we may be looking at the future of hard disk drives. Micro-disk drives would become the latest hotness, and Flash would disappear entirely from our memory. IF the technology works, that is.

    Time and speculative investors will tell if it's really everything it's cracked up to be. I certainly hope it is, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by daBass (56811)
      Uhm, did you read the entire article? It seems you missed the part where he says:

      The nature of our drives is such that they are very resistant -- almost immune -- to shock damage, making head crashes a non-event because the flexible metal foil yields to the head, pushed away by a layer of compressed air, rather than being struck by it.
      • by peragrin (659227)
        And depending on the head position when it is pushed away means that it could hit the next platter in line relatively easily. What we need to do is get away from spinning media. though that will take many advancements that haven't even been though of yet.
        • by daBass (56811)
          Yeah, I though about that too. But it all hinges in how much movement these heads can make in the case of a drop and how far away the next platter/head is. Obviously, the distance between different two sets of platters and disks can be greater than the distance between a head the disk it is reading/writing.

          I hate spinning disks too, but they are the fastest, cheapest and most durable thing we have for big storage right now, unfortunately.

          Seeing is believeing, so Mr. Cringely better be showing in that promis
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I would assume that, like pretty much all hard drives, there's heads on both sides of the media, and both heads are pushing on it. As the disc approaches the head, the air pressure probably builds up more (like ground effects, but a different force AFAIK, or at least a different cause behind it) so it's pushed away. Thus if it floats one way, it gets pushed away from that way, and they tend to self-center. Thus instead of the head being positioned (as in a disk with an array of rigid platters) the discs ar

    • I for one welcome our new iPod mini overlords
  • Aluminum goes for about 60 cents a pound, glass much less. A typical disk drive is gonna use under a nickel of raw material in the platters.
    • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mspohr (589790) on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:28AM (#16609566)
      If you had RTFA, you would have learned that the savings in the cost of the platters comes from lower manufacturing / fabrication costs, not the cost of the material. In fact, the foil platters use a more expensive material (stainless steel or titanium).

      The real savings comes from the fact that the coating/finishing of the platters can be done on a big roll of foil and the platters can then be just stamped out. Standard platters must be finished individually.

      • Plus you are talking about using much less material for the foil system even if you have more platters.
  • by Rhys (96510) on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:21AM (#16609438) Homepage
    At the UIUC Reflections|Projects ACM conference. It was actually a fairly interesting talk (http://www.acm.uiuc.edu/conference/2006/webcast.p hp) about the same topic, maybe a little more in-depth than the article. At least more pretty pictures than the article.
  • by itwerx (165526) <itwerx@gmail.com> on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:25AM (#16609502) Homepage
    Cringley must be old enough to remember Bernoulli disks [wikipedia.org]. (They used a plastic film but same concept applies.)
    • by itwerx (165526) <itwerx@gmail.com> on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:28AM (#16609558) Homepage
      Forgot to mention, the reason film isn't used is the coefficient of expansion. There's no temperature regulation in drives (yet) and there isn't a film material in existence that doesn't expand and contract with the temperature. That's actually one of the reasons glass was introduced awhile back, data densities were getting so high that even the rigid metal platters were moving enough to become a factor.
      • Not to mention stretching of the material over time. Especially at very high rpms (he mentioned 30K RPMs!)
      • by Graff (532189)

        Forgot to mention, the reason film isn't used is the coefficient of expansion. There's no temperature regulation in drives (yet) and there isn't a film material in existence that doesn't expand and contract with the temperature.

        That's not so hard to deal with actually. Have a few marker bits at the start of each track which tell you what track you are currently on and provide you with rotational timing and have a bit of code which compensates for being off a little bit because of temperature effects. Te

  • How about a stack of "foil" platters read by a single head outside the stack, that can "focus" its read-sensitive probe electromagnetically inside the stack? Maybe they wouldn't even need an airgap, just some intervening film to help "address" the different layers. Perhaps a pair of heads reading a "stereoscopic" view. Maybe that could read a whole track at once. Multiple heads around the radii could read simultaneous tracks.

    This kind of tech has a lot of problems in signal/noise, permissivity/permeability,
    • by freeze128 (544774)

      How about a stack of "foil" platters read by a single head outside the stack, that can "focus" its read-sensitive probe electromagnetically inside the stack? Maybe they wouldn't even need an airgap, just some intervening film to help "address" the different layers.

      That's an ingenious idea. Technology like that would make existing hard disks last a lot longer, because the only moving part would be the spinning of the disks. That would prevent a lot of head crashes, and also increase the operating temperature

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        Well, only if the "stereo magnetic sensor" can work, without moving the heads.

        I'm still waiting for HD makers to "invert" their tiny feature-size manufacturing from platter surfaces to read/write heads. Why not a top layer disc that is covered with sensors/probes the same scale as the data domains on the discs below them? Addressing the probe layer with/for data as a RAM page, with a "layer index" for the target disc layer on which the proble layer "focuses". Maybe a single layer at a time, with the probe s
  • Speed control (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:27AM (#16609538)
    Speed control of the rotating disk is going to be harder if the disk has less mass. You basically loose a nice dampener that you had in the system.

    The only real power savings would come during spin-up. Once the disk is spinning, there's no additional power used to rotate a heavy vs. a light flywheel. (Well, a little bit because of increased bearing friction, but it's probably negligible.)

    Finally, if you lighten up the parts in a hard drive, most companies are just going to use the energy savings to drive the parts FASTER.

    IANADDEBIAAME*

    *I Am Not A Disk Drive Engineer But I Am A Mechanical Engineer
    • Re:Speed control (Score:5, Informative)

      by Svartalf (2997) on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:30AM (#16609616) Homepage
      Uhm... That's NOT quite true... Cut the power off, the disc eventually stops spinning because of friction, etc.

      You need to supply a constant input of angular momentum to keep the discs spinning. Spinning a
      smaller mass will ALWAYS mean a lower power input, from start to finish and everything in betweeen.
      • by MightyYar (622222)
        I agree - lower, but I still don't thing "significant". Plus, as I mentioned and as they mention in the article, they will eat up a lot of the power savings by spinning up the drive faster. It's also possible, though I don't have the right kind of information, that maintaining the speed of such little mass will prove to be energy-intensive. It will be very sensitive to changes in power input, so oscillations in velocity are going to be harder to control - it's like increasing the gain in the system.

        All I'm
      • Uhm... That's NOT quite true... Cut the power off, the disc eventually stops spinning because of friction, etc.

        Parent said: "Once the disk is spinning, there's no additional power used to rotate a heavy vs. a light flywheel."

        Mass is irrelevant when maintaining a constant angular momentum, all else (like coefficient of friction) equal. Once spinning, aerodynamics and friction are running the show.

        • by Vellmont (569020)

          Mass is irrelevant when maintaining a constant angular momentum, all else (like coefficient of friction) equal. Once spinning, aerodynamics and friction are running the show.

          Except mass is related to the frictional force stopping it. Directly proportional in fact. The only question is how much drag is created by friction, and how much is created by the air resistance? I don't know, but if most of the drag is created by friction than a much lighter platter is going to have a lot less drag on it, and thus
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Graff (532189)

          Mass is irrelevant when maintaining a constant angular momentum, all else (like coefficient of friction) equal.

          Not exactly true. Remember that the coefficient of friction is just a imensionless scalar value, it is not the actual force of friction. You need to multiply the coefficient of friction by the normal force between the two objects that are moving past each other. In this case we are talking about the mass of the flywheel acting upon its pivot point. I believe the relationship of friction to the

    • I think you mean that the greater rotational inertia in the glass disk system tends to dampen noise in it (vibrations, etc) while a very light mass would be more susceptable to it.

      "Finally, if you lighten up the parts in a hard drive, most companies are just going to use the energy savings to drive the parts FASTER."

      If they drive the parts faster then you have greater performance. Energy costs vs performance, an old decision.
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        Energy costs vs performance, an old decision.

        Exactly. My point was that the article makes it seem like you will get all of these improvements together, which is probably not true. Manufacturers will come out with hard drives that fit in the existing price structure. They will juice performance and capacity, but probably at the expense of potential energy usage. Also, these drives sound more complicated (if just because of the higher number of platters) - so that violates KISS and makes me suspicious of any

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:29AM (#16609570)
    I seem to recall in the late 80's and through the 90's a removable cartridge drive system known as Bernoulli drives. They had "floppy" media (mylar, though, not foil), The drive would spin up the disk, then insert the heads, which were like hard drive heads - floating over the surface rather than the more standard pressed against the surface (a la Zip/Floppy drives).

    Ah, Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernoulli_drive [wikipedia.org]

    Basically, this drive is similar, just in a self-contained format rather than a removable cartridge solution?

    Though, bumping the drive while spinning could do a lot of damage from precession of the platters causing the material to warp. Fast spinning disks are miniature gyroscopes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Svartalf (2997)
      Actually, they have a thin metal version of this technology in a removable cartridge form
      that's the size and thickness of a credit card with a smartcard contact point on it for
      the crypto control on the disc. 100Mbytes to over 5Gbytes in a device allegedly more durable
      than Flash (it's got the same vibration, etc. characteristics supposedly, but it's write
      endurance vastly exceeds Flash right at the moment...)- in a credit card's space. What Bob
      did was suggest that they apply the tech to fixed disc devices-
  • ...that having a heavy disk in the drive would make it more stable, easier to keep and a constant speed and generally a lot better for wear and tear on bearings and heads.

    I also seem to remember that glass and ceramic platters don't expand as much as metals do during thermal change which happens a lot as drives are turned on and shuts down, so I'd wager that his idea of using tin foil, aluminium or any other metal is flawed. Seriously.
    • Aluminum is already in common use. Thermal problems are handled somehow. I think stainless steel and titanium are less a problem than aluminum. As long as the thermal coefficient of expansion is isotropic, it can be handled.
  • by Cr0w T. Trollbot (848674) on Friday October 27, 2006 @11:46AM (#16609798)
    Since Cringely isn't nearly as big an idiot as Rob Enderle or John C. Devorak, at least this doesn't seem like rank psuedoscience. But there seem to be an awful lot of unchallenged assumptions about the technology that need to be worked out for it to be commercially viable.

    In particular, I'd like to see evidence for the following claims:

    "They could design new families of disk drives that held up to three times as much data in the same space, were more reliable, actually cheaper to build, and used 70-95 percent less energy to run than the current state of the art."
    I'd sure like to see the assumptions and numbers underlying that equation.

    "The technology in question replaces the aluminum or glass platter in your hard disk drive with a "platter" made from stainless steel or titanium foil that is 22 microns or 25 microns thick, respectively. The materials cost more but we use so much less of it (the disk is so incredibly thin) that the total material cost is substantially less. This "floppy" material has the same kind of magnetic coatings used on standard disk drives and our drives live on the same technology growth curve as those others. The way we obtain greater storage density is simply by putting more platters in a drive (say 12-15 instead of 4-5 in an enterprise 3.5-inch drive) because they are much thinner and can be stacked closer together. The only parts of the drive that are significantly different are the platters and the heads and the heads vary only in having an extra slot. There is no rocket science here, but what science there is is patented."
    Gee, Cringe, which do you think costs more: The raw platters themselves, or the read/write heads? I would say the latter. So you're going to drop the costs of hard drives by doubling the most expensive component? Huh?

    The advantage of our drives goes beyond enterprise applications. We are able to build cheaper drives, for example, because our platters cost less to make and the nature of our flying heads is such that dust is sucked away from the head-disk interface, meaning the drives do not have to be assembled in a clean room.
    Sorry, I'm not buying this at all. You don't think a non-cleanroom enclosure is going to result in data loss on the platters themselves? Even if you're not getting particles during the read/write phase itself, you're getting them on the platter. I'm not buying the logic here.

    Who needs flash in general as a mass storage technology? Our 10-gigabyte 0.85-inch drive can spin up, read or write data, then shut down again, all in less time than it takes to perform the same task using flash.
    Sorry, I'm not buying this at all. Until the advent of true Drexlarian nanotechnology, I doubt you're going to see a mechanical action (you still have to move the eread/write heads) beat an eletronic one (reading from Flash).

    I'm not saying that the technology Cringely talks about is impossible, I'm saying: A.) There seem to be a lot of unwarrented assumptions underlying his logic, and B.) Implementation always has unforeseen hurldes and obstacles that will make these drives seem like far less of a slam-dunk vs. current technology (or more specifically, where regular drive technology will be 18 months from now) than it appears.

    Finally, once it is ready, I'd like to see real-world tests for speed/electrical consumption metrics with existing technology. There might indeed be some savings, but I seriously doubt they are as dramatic as Cringely claims.

    Crow T. Trollbot

    • Meh, I seem to read about an amazing new breakthrough on these pages every other week. I'll believe it when I see it, which seems to be about 10% of the time.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The advantage of our drives goes beyond enterprise applications. We are able to build cheaper drives, for example, because our platters cost less to make and the nature of our flying heads is such that dust is sucked away from the head-disk interface, meaning the drives do not have to be assembled in a clean room.

      Sorry, I'm not buying this at all. You don't think a non-cleanroom enclosure is going to result in data loss on the platters themselves? Even if you're not getting particles during the read

  • I see this solution to be prone to data errors. Therefore, I suggest that the vendor puts their money where their mouth is. Put them in some dozen tablets at a college for students and test the fail rate. Stick them in a SAN for a large data center and test the mean-time to failure. Hell, run Slashdot on them. I want to see failure, power consumption, and shock test data.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)
      apparently you will - brand name drive manufacturers will have these drives out next year. And they'll be small to fit in iPods or mobile phones, so your concerns about reliability, power consumption and shock-resistance will be tested to the max then.
  • Hmmm, their website seems to be down.

  •   I've always been curious - why don't modern drive have a spiral array of heads per suface, instead of the slower mechanical heads? It seems like track-seek speeds would disappear in such a design. Is the cost of a drive head than great, and how much of that cost is due to the movement mechanism itself?
  • by OlivierB (709839) on Friday October 27, 2006 @12:42PM (#16610662)
    Sure traditional Hard Drive manufacturers may be in jeopardy if they don't license this technology but don't discard flash just yet.
    First thing flash has over this technology is *proven* reliability. This new technology can't buy that for money nor love.

    Second thing is that this technology has *nothing* over flash (except maybe extreme temperatures, but special flash chips exist too). Performance is not said to be better than flash (you can't beet nanoseconds to access data in flash).
    The only thing it has over flash at the moment is a cheaper price. Have you seen flash price trends over the last two years? I would say that it roughly obeys an inverse Moore Law (where prices for a same capacity are halfed every 18 months).
    Flash chips are nothing but plastic and silicium. If Sandisk our however started feeling some heat from this new technology they could *ALWAYS* lower the price, hoping to make it up in volume.
    At the moment flash manufacturers are at max capacity and are structuring their prices to maximise profit IN THE CURRENT MARKET CONDITIONS. If a new competitor comes out with a ground breaking technology they will find a new price point to maximise their profit then.
    Flash, inlike hard drives cost almost nothing to produce, their marginal cost is virually pennies, unlike tens of dollars for HDs. They currently support investment costs and high margins, but in a differnet market configuration they could outprice these new disks and ramp up production.

    Flash is the future, its already here but the chip companies have no incentive to make it any more affordable than it currently is, they are milking us just like OPEC does with oil.

    If somebody invents tomorrow a car that recharges in 3 mins and has 500 miles range and same performance and price as regular cars, the oil barrel will drop to $15 overnight, it's the same thing.

    It's all about supply, demand and marginal costs.

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