Saturday, December 24, 2011

Memory and Drive; Present and Future

In the fast pace world of technology things are rendered obsolete as quickly as their replacements are invented. Memory storage devices for personal use have come a long way from floppy (almost extinct) and hard drives (still in use) to the modern form of optical discs and flash memory.
Optical discs:
CD ROM and DVD ROM are both 12cm diameter read-only optical storage discs. CD-ROMs have the capacity of about 700 MB while DVD-ROMs can store up to 17 GB Since they are read-only therefore data cannot be stored or written.
This brings us to CD R and DVD R. As the name indicates both can be written on only once and then read from multiple times. CD-R can store up to 650MB of data while DVD-R can hold 4.7GB of data
CD RW & DVD RW (or an alternative DVD RAM) can be both written on and read from multiple times although they are not always compatible with normal CD or DVD players.
Blu Ray although presently more expensive is becoming increasingly popular as it replaces DVDs for storing movies. It uses a blue laser to record more data (upto 50 GB) onto a disc which is the same physical size as a DVD.
Solid state Storage:
It is ‘solid-state’ meaning that it has no moving parts. The solid state drive (SSD) is much smaller than the hard disk and works much faster. Also called flash memory it has the following examples
  • The BIOS chip of computers
  • Compact Flash (most often found in digital cameras)
  • Smart Media (most often found in digital cameras)
  • Memory Stick and pen drive
  • PCMCIA Type I and Type II memory cards (used as solid-state disks in laptops)
  • Memory cards for video game consoles
Since the advent of flash memory it seems to be replacing hard drives in the industry as their capacity reaches that of a current hard disk today. Although it is more expensive than your average hard disks yet considering the speed, noise, power consumption, and reliability it’s worth the cost.
In 2006 Samsung first used SSD in their PCs followed by Dell, Apple with Macbook Air and Lenovo etc.
Other storage systems:
NAS which consists of a box like device can be attached to a LAN network and used to store files or emails etc. It can be accessed by network computers following proper authentication etc. More drives can be attached to the NAS to enhance its capacity if desired. However all the computers in the network will access NAS and not the other drives.
Eye-fi card:
An eye-fi card came up from the simple concept of putting memory and the wi-fi connection together. It is a simple SD card but has a wi-fi antenna. It is used in cameras to snap pictures and then upload them using the wi-fi network of your home or of a hotspot near you to your desired location in your computer, mobile or website.
MRAM Chips:
Magneto-resistive random access memory (MRAM) chips will in future probably replace all hard drives and even devices based on flash memory. Although they rely on the same magnetic properties like hard drives, unlike the electric charge on silicon chips today yet they have faster reading and writing speeds than both. There is little chance of these being degraded like the USB drives.
Molecular Memory:
Molecular memory storage devices based on nano technology will have the potential to store upto 50 times more data than the hard disks within the same storage space. However the technology is still in a nascent stage and it will take a few decades before it turns into a reality.
Holographic Memory:
Holographic memory is data storage in 3D instead of 2D. It is based on the same principles of using light to store data as in CD and DVDs. However in future owing to the increased need of customers they might not remain a very viable option.
Holographic storage uses the entire volume of the storage device and not just the exposed surface as the optical disks to store data. Therefore the data density and transfer speed are much higher. It can store 27 times more data in the same size as a DVD which means almost 1 terabyte of storage.
In Pakistan almost all known international brands that sell memory associated equipment are present. Some of the most notable are as follows
Kingston Technology Company, Inc. founded in 1987 offers more than 2,000 memory products that support nearly every device that uses memory, from computers, servers and printers to MP3 players, digital cameras and mobile phones. The long list of storage devices include flash drives, compact flash and SD cards (8GB-64GB) for digital cameras, PDAs and MP3 players, wi-drives (sharing content through wi-fi with your approved channels), SSD, and system specific drives etc.
ADATA founded in 2001 is an international brand that offers a wide range of products in Pakistan related to memory including DRAM modules, USB flash drives, memory cards, solid state drives and portable hard drives. All flash drives offer storage options from 4GB- 32GB. It has a beautiful range of external hard drives with imprinted 3D designs offering storage capacities of 320GB, 500GB and 640GB.
Corsair founded in 1994 offers a large variety of products including memory by platform like Mac, INTEL or AMD based PCs, vengeance gaming keyboards and headsets etc, SSDs, power supply units, builder-friendly cases, CPU coolers, blazing-fast and other key system components. Corsair’s products are sold to end users in over sixty countries worldwide, primarily through leading distributors and retailers.

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