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BLOG: The ‘Nike’ moment in technology

Dr. Pantelis Alexopoulos | Oct. 23, 2012
As technology continues to progress at breakneck speed, have we reached the pinnacle of technological achievement?

Hybrid Drives - Faster, cheaper, better

As gamechanging as each of these technologies has been, there are still limitations to what they can do. For example, the industry has repeatedly made calls for devices with larger storage capacities; lower power consumption; faster processing speeds; and increased data security in an ultra-slim form factor.

At the Intel Developer Forum 2012 in Beijing, Intel called manufacturers of hard disk drives and optical disc drives to create and standardise ultra-slim devices compatible with modern ultrabook ultra-thin designs. This challenges manufacturers to go beyond the current industry best of 7mm, considered by many in the industry as a major technological achievement. At the Intel event, observers also called out A*STAR's Data Storage Institute's (DSI) 5mm hybrid drive as an example of the direction industry drive manufacturers should follow.

When we embarked on the development of the 5mm, our vision was to see our drives applied in the consumer and business space - from tablets, ultrabooks, data centres, to storage facilities. In addition, we decided to move in the direction of a hybrid drive that provides a seamless integration of storage and data management between the flash and disk component, providing features like instant-on capabilities while providing a larger storage capacity without the astronomical cost of Solid State Drives.

In the enterprise space, the integration will enable more efficient data flow, enabling faster completion of processes. With the addition of a flash memory component, we believe the drive will operate at 70 percent less power than conventional Hard Disk Drives when active. This reduction in power translates to 30 percent longer battery life in tablet devices, and significant power savings of up to 50 percent when used on a larger scale in data centres and storage racks.

 Data Centres of the Future

Today's data centres predominately use hard disk drives that consume a high amount of energy to operate, but is extremely slow. The characteristics of hard disk drives - low in speed but high in power consumption - is the exact opposite of what is needed by future data centres. On the other hand, solid state drives, based on flash technology, have been introduced to address these challenges. However, as with all technology, solid state drives have their limitations from poor endurance and write performance.

Current data centres are so intricately designed with traditional hard disk drives in mind that introducing new technologies into computing and storage systems will force an advent of changes across several functions. To address this issue, we reassessed the current system architecture - from hardware to operating system - and redesigned a system that would be able to draw the most benefits from both hard disk drives and solid state drives.


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