Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, August 10, 2018

Are Hard Drives on the Way Out?
Intel Corporation has introduced its 32 Terabyte SSD called "The Ruler."  Sales of this device are currently being aimed at data centers. Not even the most determined genealogist could load up one of these drives. The new Intel SSD DC P4500 is 12 inches by 1.5 inches, and a third of an inch thick and is currently the world's densest SSD. Theoretically, the manager of a server farm could pack 32 of these devices into a 1U Server rack and have 1 Petabyte of memory in a space that is 6" x 30".

What does this new device mean for genealogists? If you have a computer, you are probably using a hard drive although some of the newest computers come with SSD memory (Solid State Drive). You are probably also familiar with the ubiquitous "flash drive" or "thumb drive." In addition, if you are backing up your data, you might have one or more external hard drives. Most of the higher capacity SSDs are being sold as "internal" hard drives either with new computers or as an upgrade to an existing computer. The cost of high capacity external SSDs is not presently competitive with hard drives in the retail market.

The fact that such a drive exists and is being sold by Intel will begin to dramatically affect the cost of storage media whether it is hard drive storage or SSD. Currently, a 12 Terabyte hard disk drive on Amazon costs about $640 which comes out to about $20 a Terabyte. An 8 Terabyte (TB) hard drive is about $150 or about $18 a Terabyte. However, the initial cost of a hard drive vs. an SSD has to take into account the cost of the operation of the drives. The Intel Ruler requires 1/10th of the power and about 5% of the size of conventional hard disk drives.

Samsung is also in the race for high capacity SSDs. Their next generation Small Form Factor (NGSFF) storage could be configured to have 288 TBs in a 1U Server. Right now, these high capacity SSDs cost into the thousands of dollars each, but with competition, these prices will start to drop quickly.

This is all good news to genealogists and to anyone who has a need for a lot of digital storage capacity.

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