Friday, 22 May 2009

Commodity storage

When I was a teen, having one kilobyte of storage in a personal computer was normal! And that same machine lost everything in its now tiny memory when the power was removed, unless you connected an audio cassette recorder and saved the contents on to a magnetic audio tape cassette, (for younger readers, this was one of the pre-cursors to CDs and music downloads!). Now my laptop computer has 320Gb hard disk and 4 Mb RAM, and we take this for granted. That excludes the cache memory the processor chip has on-board or the video RAM included. Optical storage has been through a similar trend ... first the CD, then the DVD and more recently Blu-Ray disks. Scientists are now experimenting with holographic disk technology amongst others. The BBC reported recently on techniques that swell data capacities to 300 times the current DVD standard.

This all points to the fact that storage is no longer a limiting factor in most applications. Storage is becoming a commodity item. In some applications it will be more cost-effective to store huge amounts of data on media and send the media than to send the data over communications links, where immediacy is not so important. Some people are already in the habit of wearing or otherwise carrying a memory stick containing all of their important and needed data with them. The amount of storage in personal devices is ever increasing. Eventually such devices will offer whole-life recording. Storage will play a key part in this as will technologies that enable content to be searched and tagged automatically. I often wish I didn't forget things; in the future I may not be able to!

1 comment:

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