These technologies can change the data storage world in 2016!

Data storage world will undergo dramatic evolution in 2016 with the following technologies used for near, medium and long term storage. It’s is going to be possible with the help of the following new disk, solid state and tape storage technologies which will offer enterprises cheaper, faster and more energy efficient storage in days ahead.

Ethernet Hard Drives- Seagate a world renowned storage company announced Ethernet connected Kinetic Hard Drives in 2014. The highlight of these drives is that they have an IP address and can directly communicate with the server over existing TCP/IP data center communications fabric using an open source object API. Getting into specifications, each 4TB Kinetic Hard drive has a two Gigabit Ethernet ports and can be accessed via its own IP address. Thus, it helps in bringing down the costs associated with storage, servers and software, while compute and storage will be able to be scaled independently. If the storage architecture is commercially successful it will be extraordinarily disruptive since the direct connectivity from drives to applications will get rid of storage controllers, file systems, SANs and even RAID arrays. These Kinetic drives from Seagate are best to be used for object storage, distributed file systems, distributed database use cases.

Helium filled drives- HGST, now a business unit of Western Digital was the first company to introduce 6TB helium drives in 2013. A major benefit of filled hard drives with helium gas instead of air is that helium is dense than air and so makes it simple for the platters to spin, leading to less heat generation and consumes just almost 23% less power. Since, helium-filled drives are sealed units (to avoid He escape), they can be used with highly efficient data center liquid cooling systems. HGST has now introduced a 10TB helium-filled hard drive – leapfrogging Seagate’s highest capacity enterprise hard drive, which is 8TB (and which does not use helium technology). And such is the promise of the technology that by 2017 all of HGST’s enterprise drives will be filled with helium, and air-filled disk manufacturing will be discontinued, the company has announced.

Shingled Magnetic Recording SMR- In this technique of storage, overlapping parallel data tracks instead of parallel tracks with a gap between them is possible, as used by conventional drives. The benefit of a shingled magnetic recording is that it allows areal density to be increased by up to 25%. But the bad point is that when data is written to a track, all overlapping tracks have to rewritten as well. So, a poor write performance can be witnessed. However, SMR technology propelled hard drives can be used for cloud and cold storage applications because relatively low write performance doesn’t affect these apps. If the write performance limitations can be smartly leaped, then HDD manufactures can make way to give areal densities as small boost before technologies such as HAMR replace their place.

Heat assisted magnetic recording HAMR- Presently; many disc based storage media makers are using 2005’s perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR), for squeezing around 750GB per square inch on a disk platter. Any increase in area density above this level risks bits reversing themselves spontaneously, leading to data loss. But Western Digital and Seagate are both working on drives that use a technology called heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) to replace PMR. HAMR uses a small laser to heat the part of the disk that is about to be written to. The effect is to allow smaller bits to be written to the disk, increasing the potential areal density to about 5,000 GB per square inch. That means that 3.5″ disk drives with a capacity of 60TB may be possible.

Note- HAMR drives could appear on the market as early as 2016, but the first offerings are unlikely to offer capacities as high as 50TB-60TB.

High performance phase change memory- Phase change memory looks like a promising alternative to standard NAND memory used in solid state drives. It uses Chalcogenide- chemical compound containing one or more Chalcogen Anion and at least one more electro positive element) alloy in two physical states- crystalline and amorphous. Since the resistance of the alloy in the two states is different, this property can be used to store binary information 0s and 1s. The physical state can be switched by applying heat, and as both states are stable they persist until they are actively changed. State changes can be performed on a cell (and therefore data written) about a million times, which compares favorably with the typical 30,000 write cycles offered by high-end SLC NAND cells found in enterprise class SSDs. The problem with PCM is that it has high write latency, but computing giant IBM has demonstrated that a hybrid device that uses PCM, NAND and DRAM on a single controller can work up to 275 times faster than a standard SSD device. This arrangement offers read times between 100 and 300 nanoseconds, and write times of between 10 and 150 microseconds. IBM expects that storage products based on this hybrid PCM technology will be available by mid 2016.

LTO tape technology- Linear Tape Technology, which offers raw tape capacity of 6TB storage and costs about 1.3 cents per gigabyte or less, is now a major hit among storage vendors. In coming days, tape vendors are looking to introduce tapes with 16TB and 32TB storage capacities, based on LTO technology. Presently, Fujifilm has introduced a 6TB tape cartridge based on LTO 7. In September 2014, tape vendors like IBM, HP, Quantum and Fujifilm announced that they are planning to build higher capacity tape cartridges in generation 9 and 10 with compressed capacities of 62.5TB and 120TB respectively. Transfer rates are expected to increase to rates of up to 1,770MB/s for generation 9 and 2,750 for generation 10. As with all LTO standards the new generations will include read-and-write backwards compatibility with the prior generation as well as read compatibility with cartridges from two generations prior. LTO-6 was introduced in 2012 and new generations of LTO tapes are introduced about every two to three years, so LTO-10 is likely to be available in about 2021.

IBM and Fujifilm to come up with a 154TB and 220TB tape cartridge- In May 2014 IBM and Fujifilm announced a new record in areal data density of 85.9 billion bits per square inch on cost-efficient linear magnetic particulate tape. With that areal density, it should be possible to make an LTO-style cartridge that can store up to 154TB of uncompressed data, which is 62 times more than LTO-6 cartridges. The technology could be commercially viable in next 5 years’ time (well….almost). To achieve this high areal density Fujifilm has developed what it calls Nanocubic technology, which decreases the volume of individual Barium Ferrite (BaFe) magnetic particles without degrading their thermal stability. Low volume particles are essential for high areal density, while thermal stability is needed to ensure the long term storage capabilities of the tape. BaFe storage has been shown to be reliable for up to thirty years in Fujifilm trials, and BaFe is also not subject to deterioration from oxidization since the particles are already oxides. For its part, IBM has developed an enhanced write field head that can be used with the lower volume BaFe particles, and an advanced head positioning system that enables a track density 27 times higher than the current LTO-6 format. By 2021, a 220TB tape cartridge will also be available from IBM.

Genetic Storage- Researchers have now found a way to store high amounts of data on DNA that can be kept cold for thousands of years. So, it can be used as an archival medium in years to come, provided the research offers more success. In the year 2015, it was made official by some scientists in UK that 2000TB of data can be stored on 1gm of DNA. But the issue is that storage technique of synthesized DNA is too expensive. But in future, who knows it can be accessible to every data storage seeker in a cost effective way.

If any other data storage technology is missing in the list, feel free to share it on this blog’s comments section below. If impressive on probe we will also clip your name and details to the provided information when added to the list.


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