Hard drive, SSD technology breaks new ground

Prices are falling, capacities are increasing and speed is improving

September 21, 2012

Development of hard drives and solid state drives is marching on toward faster, more reliable, and larger capacities. Storage technology has also been in the news quite often recently thanks to the Intel Developer Forum.

Here are some of the more exciting stories:

Helium may be the key to 7TB hard drives

Helium has for the longest time only had one real use to mankind, making people sound like midgets after they’ve sucked on a balloon for too long. However, Western Digital has changed all of that by using Helium in modern hard drives.

Helium is less dense than air, allowing for lower friction and drag on the storage platters in the hard drive, making it cooler and more power efficient. It also reduces the distance needed between platters, allowing Western Digital to cram up to 7 platters into a single 3.5 inch housing for a total of 7TB of storage.

Helium hard drives aimed at enterprise customers will start shipping in 2013, with hopes that the consumers will also get a piece of the high capacity action at a later date.

Helium balloons

Now the second best use of Helium

OCZ ready to push performance with Vector

OCZ battled hard for the high-end market with their Vertex 4 series of SSDs that currently offer some of the best performance available to consumers wanting a 2.5-inch SATA drive for their gaming machine.

With Vertex 4 drives retailing for between R880 (64GB) and R2,400 (256GB), the drives are a tempting purchase. However, if anything is going to stop you from buying a Vertex 4, it’ll be a Vector, OCZ’s next generation high-end SSD.

Spotted at the Intel Developer Forum earlier this month, the Vector will be the company’s first Indilinx drive produced with no outside help from Marvell. Shipping with a Barefoot 3 controller and Micron MLC memory, the drive is expected to ship in the fourth quarter of this year.

OCZ Vector SSD

OCZ Vector SSD. Credit: Anandtech

SATA will be too slow for future SSDs

The Intel Developer Forum also saw Intel talk about SSDs, and how by 2014, Ultrabooks will make use of PCI Express connections rather than mSATA connections because the latter interface will not be able to cope with the speeds of modern SSDs.

“The SATA interface simply doesn’t scale” with the requirements of SSDs, according to Amber Huffman, who believes that “mSATA on the Ultrabook is dead”.

Now while this may sound rather dramatic and over the top, it’s good news for gamers. SSDs that are too fast for the SATA interface will probably spur innovation and bring down the cost of PCI Express SSDs, something every gamer could do with in their system, because there is never a PC component that’s too fast.

Intel silver SSD

SATA SSDs are nearly “has-beens”

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Tags: hard drive, headline, IDF, Intel, OCZ, OCZ Vector, SSD, Ultrabook

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