The data storage game has changed dramatically over the last decade. You could say we’ve witnessed a complete evolution as the technology we use to store our digital information has shifted from disks to flash drives to 2TB external hard drives or larger. The game is changing once again, and thanks to recent breakthroughs by some of its most influential players, we could be in store for a monumental data storage revolution.
1. Samsung Making NAND Sexy Again
Samsung has rolled the 3D V-NAND into mass production. The 128-gig chip is touted as the first ever vertically stacked NAND-based flash memory device and uses Samsung’s version of Charge Trap Flash technology (CTF). CTF places an electric charge in a chamber of non-conducive flash and uses silicon nitride to prevent interference between cells. The addition of CTF gives the chip better scaling capabilities, while dramatically improving speed and reliability, says Samsung.
Hearing that Samsung is diving deeper into this type of memory may be surprising news to those who keep up with the storage community, seeing that NAND has supposedly been on life support for some time now. More on that to come. The V-NAND is reportedly the first in a line of new 3D NAND chips that could be bumped up to 24 layers and an ultra robust 1 TB in storage.
2. Enter The RRAM Revolution
Resistive RAM or RRAM, is being hyped as the latest technology in line to replace NAND as the primary method of memory storage. This technology was recently introduced by California-based startup Crossbar, which designed the concept to support high-performance, high-capacity non-volatile memory chips that could potentially move data storage ahead light years. RRAM boasts a three-layer structure capable of storing up to 1 TB of data on a single 200mm2 chip. The company claims that its technology will eventually evolve to store multiple terabytes of data on chip space the size of a postage stamp.
The storage capacity possibilities are startling, but the RRAM concept delivers some of its most impressive innovation in the way of performance and reliability. Crossbar’s technology is advertised to write 20 times faster than NAND, with 10 times the endurance. Its reliability is said to be nearly on par with DRAM, which is commonly found in desktops, workstations, and video game consoles.
3. SDS: IT Feast or Famine?
Software-defined storage (SDS) is currently one of the most interesting innovations on the data storage front. This concept aims to decouple storage from the limited boundaries of hardware to create all new degrees of flexibility and agility. From what I’ve been able to gather, it’s best suited for the large-scale applications a data center operator would use to support the delivery of capacity and other critical IT services to clients. Although some call it a marketing gimmick, proponents believe SDS offers an effective way to enhance operational efficiency, while improving service availability, and the ability to quickly respond to rapidly changing business environments.
Which data storage technologies will lead us into the future? That answer will be determined by the ability of these and other innovations to meet the cost, performance, and reliability demands of the end-users who need a practical way to house their digital information.