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32 GB Flash Storage Drive Announced 381

Audrius writes to tell us TG Daily is reporting that Samsung has just announced a new 32 GB Flash storage device. The aim of this new solid state disk (SSD) drive is to completely replace the traditional hard drives in many laptops on the market. Some of the advantages offered are the 1.8" form factor, read speeds more than twice that of a normal hard drive, and the promise of 95% less power use.
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32 GB Flash Storage Drive Announced

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  • Digital Camcorders (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) * <shadow,wrought&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:39PM (#14967357) Homepage Journal
    I could see this having a pretty big impact on digital video cameras, too. No moving parts to break while you're running around with a handheld. Very cool!
  • Data Integrity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jessecurry ( 820286 ) <jesse@jessecurry.net> on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:40PM (#14967365) Homepage Journal
    Will this still be useful for critical applications? What's the current failure rate of flash memory?
  • Reliability? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by smoor ( 961352 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:40PM (#14967366)
    It seems like a nice way to go (solid state). I wonder what the life of a unit like this would be. Flash drives might be droppable, but what else can kill them? Somehow I feel better imagining that my stuff is magnetically etched into a platter... I guess I'm just old...
  • by firl ( 907479 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:43PM (#14967404)
    Not only that, think about an ipod that doesn't have the hard drive problems that it does today. or imagine a raid of these in a server for either a SAN or a Database, where the data i/o would surpass 1 gig per second, granted if they make it go beyond the normal pci bus. I personally am looking forward to this
  • by ScrewTivo ( 458228 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:50PM (#14967479) Homepage
    and with the speed increase not see a difference. I have wanted this since my first 286.
  • Re:Interesting .... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GoodOmens ( 904827 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:50PM (#14967481) Homepage
    Ehh so my math is slightly off. Its still roughly 37x the cost of a hard drive.

    Anyways you are right though. I can see solid state drives taking over hard drives in the future. The less moving parts the better.

    All I was trying to point out was its to early now for widespread adoption.

  • by sampas ( 256178 ) * on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @06:00PM (#14967581)
    It will be nice to have the additional capacity on GPS devices and tablets used for aircraft navigation. Traditional HD's have trouble above 12,000 feet because the head's "wings" don't produce enough lift at lower pressure.

    My question is how many write operations is it rated for? Others list 300,000 -- is that a lot or a little?
  • by teslar ( 706653 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @06:39PM (#14967872)
    For critical applications I imagine you'd use a RAID of flash disks just like a RAID of magnetic drives.
    Yeah, I wonder... stick them all in a Mirror RAID and you'll be writing to each of them at the same rate, using up their rewrite cycles simultaneously. And when the Grim Writer comes, it will come for the entire array, not just one card. Granted, they won't fail at exactly the same write, but it's gonna be a close call - too close?
  • Re:Star Trek (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Akaihiryuu ( 786040 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:15PM (#14968105)
    The isolinear chips are actually an optical storage format. I guess you could kind of compare them to CD-RW, only they are a LOT faster, and they also store their data in 3 dimensions instead of 2. Also, a lot less effort has to be made in ST computers to make them use an optical format, because the computers themselves are optical, not electronic. Crystals instead of silicon chips, fiber optics instead of semiconductors and connecting wires. They also do some funky stuff like putting a warp field around the computer so that the fiber optics can exceed the speed of light. Actually, Star Trek tech optical tech is kind of similar to Ancient and Goa'uld (since the Goa'uld scavenged Ancient tech to come up with their stuff) tech in Stargate.
  • Shock and vibration (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Intron ( 870560 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:16PM (#14968121)
    The article didn't mention shock and vibration resistance, but the flash is likely to be far more rugged than a rotating drive. Might have better temperature specs, too. Once we get flexible flat screen displays, I'll be able to drop my laptop without having a heart attack.
  • Re:Interesting .... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:56PM (#14968345) Homepage Journal
    I know you're kidding, but I'm excited about keeping my rapidly aging 2001 powerbook on the road by upgrading it's 20gb traditional hard drive with a 32gb flash drive in a year's time. When the battery was new, I could get 5 hours of web surfing time in with the HD spun down. I suspect a flash drive would use even less energy than a hard drive in idle mode.
    The other thing people haven't mentioned, is that many laptops use 4200 or 5400rpm drives to conserve power, which often become the limiting factor for speed on the laptop. Currently I use a 7200rpm external drive over firewire, and I picked up about a 15% increase in "percieved speed" according to my Hadlock-meter. A flash drive would give me the same sort of performance on the road, without the need for a bulky external drive + wall wart.
  • Re:flash wear-out (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @08:09PM (#14968436)
    I work for a company that places core OS components on a compact flash disk plugged into an IDE adaptor. We've mounted it read-write (*nix OS) and have performed the FS optimizations like no-atime.

    They still die with distressing regularity!!!

    Noone in our engineering department has ever given a good answer as to why - my guess is the parent poster is correct - VM and expecially FS tables - inodes can get hammered. At least its the best explanation I've come up with. If anyone can REALLY explain how wear leveling interacts w/ an OS and inode allocation, I'd love to hear it. What happens when an inode is written and the wear leveling algorithm "moves" the inode?

  • Re:Laptop Storage? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @08:11PM (#14968443) Homepage Journal
    IT would be large enough for business.
    Is windows is large and so is office, but thats 10G. The remainder is emails and docs, which don't take a lot of space.

    Now, you add movies, mp3, games, etc . . . it won't be big enough.

  • by Avast Yee ( 906209 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @09:46PM (#14968924)
    Also, since it's persistent (unlike RAM) then you could have better computer boot times. Basically the mechanical hard drive becomes a type of nearline storage device that gets accessed later (and less often) in the pipeline. Does that make any sense? I often fell asleep in my OS class in college.

    Actually, I remember reading some article years back about the "future of OS storage" or some such thing. I've often thought about how it would be much nicer to have your OS stored on an intermediate storage device between your primary memory and your hard drive, at least for people who don't update their OS very often. I don't know how plausible a system like this would be, but I think there would be a lot of advantages. If you could have fast SSD memory that you could put your OS on and use your hard drive for temporary files, multimedia, and whatever else, your boot time would be considerably less. Further, a physical switch of some sort that you flip on the front of your computer once you have the OS installed and configured could make the OS storage read only, improving its security from viruses and things, couldn't you? Most of the OS is not changed very often, so it seems ideal to me. You wouldn't even have to have a very large device; five or ten gigabytes would suffice. Are there systems like this? If not, why?
  • Seek time (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tuxlove ( 316502 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @11:21PM (#14969343)
    The article says nothing about seek time... Obviously, there is no seek time with a flash drive. Accessing memory is the same cost, regardless of the address being accessed. This presents a potentially massive performance improvement over traditional drives, transfer rate notwithstanding. To me, this is the big win.

    If flash drives were more commonplace, it would revolutionize filesystem and database development. No longer would you have to care about sequential access, keeping blocks contiguous, etc. This would change everything. I'm amazed that you don't hear more about this.
  • by matt21811 ( 830841 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @01:29AM (#14969760) Homepage
    Can you provide the link for the Economist article. This is an area of interest for me.
    My own research shows the opposite is happening. Flash is charging hard after disk and the rate it is catching up is accelerating.
    http://www.mattscomputertrends.com/flashvsharddisk .html [mattscomputertrends.com]
    I am due to update this years figures but a quick analysis shows the trend is continuing.
  • by Vo0k ( 760020 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:00AM (#14970250) Journal
    Most likely it will (and usually is) made on the low level of the drive electronics - sectors as in commands sent over the tape don't map to specific bits in specific chips but are dynamically assigned and rotated, so that FAT while still appearing to be in the same place as always for the OS and disk controller (on motherboard) in fact migrates thorough the physical drive memory being dynamically relocated by the drive logic to new areas, so that no single chip gets unfairly high number of writes leading to busting the memory. This is completely transparent to all the hardware and software outside the drive, except maybe for undelete utilities.

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