A Look at the Future of Data Storage

A Look at the Future of Data Storage

November 27

According to a CRN article, a few new storage technologies could soon leave your hard drive in the past with formerly cutting edge technologies like laserdiscs, 8-track tapes, and floppy disks (you know, those square plastic coasters).

Throughout the history of data storage, various media traditionally only lasts a short time before it’s replaced by faster, bigger, better versions of data storage. While spinning hard drives (HDD) are the norm in data centers, home computers, and as external hard drives, there are a handful of emerging technologies vying for first place in the race to find the next greatest storage media. Let’s have a look.

Flash storage

Flash storage is moving forward in a big way. A handful of storage vendors are developing storage arrays that use flash memory as their primary storage media, but these are few and far in between. Flash-based storage is currently expensive as both an external drive and in storage arrays, but as researchers continue to develop flash technology, it’s becoming more viable. In the future flash could be used as primary memory for personal computing devices and to form a sort cache either in a host, array, or in the cloud, to allow quicker access to frequently accessed data.

Atomic-scale magnetic memory

IBM researchers have developed atomic-scale magnetic memory technology that arranges twelve atoms to store a single bit of data, though researchers theorize that eight is the minimum number of atoms that can be used to store data compared to current technology, which requires about a million atoms to store 1 bit of data. There is no word from IBM regarding how long before this technology will be commercially available, at this point it sounds like something from a Philip K. Dick novel, but we’ll keep an eager eye on it.

Quartz glass

Hitachi has been developing technology that saves digital information on slivers of quartz glass which can resist extreme hot and cold temperatures and other hostile environments without degrading. The current Hitachi prototype is capable of storing 40 MB of data per square inch and would theoretically be readable for several hundred million years. As with atomic-scale magnetic memory, it’s uncertain how long this technology will take to reach maturity.

DNA data storage

We’ve talked about DNA data storage in a previous post, but let’s recap. In theory, one gram of a single stranded genetic code could be used to store a maximum of 455 exabytes, or nearly a half-billion terabytes of information. It has a theoretical lifespan of 3.5 million years. This technology is useful as read-only information since the DNA sequencers that read the information do so sequentially. Researchers can’t say when this technology will be commercially viable but as research continues it will become much more cost effective.

StorageCraft ShadowProtect does not currently support DNA data, quartz glass, or atomic-scale memory storage media at this time, although it may be on our roadmap in the future.