Sunday, September 13, 2009

Is the end of rotational storage near?

Okay, so this one's been predicted for over 20 years now. I remember reading Jerry Pournelle in Byte Magazine in the early 80's making this prediction. But I just went over to and found a decent 64GB SSD for $150. While that's not going to replace the 2 terabyte RAID array in my Linux server, for the average consumer that's more than enough storage for anything they're ever going to do with a computer, and the 128GB SSD's are going to be just as cheap within six months, which is more storage than the average consumer will ever use.

Okay, now I hear you laughing. "64 gigabytes? Heck, my collection of unboxing videos is bigger than that!" But you're not the average person. The average person looks supiciously like me when I'm using my Acer Aspire One netbook on my Jeep expeditions rather than my top-of-the-line Macbook for development. My Aspire One gets used pretty much the same way the typical person uses their computer -- it does Internet browsing and email, I suck photos out of my camera into the Acer and resize them and post them on the Internet, and it handles a single major application -- in my case, loading detailed topographical maps and imagery into my DeLorme PN-40 GPS. It came with a 120gb hard drive. I'm using about 35GB of that hard drive right now, because I copy all my photos off onto an external drive when I get home (because I don't trust the integrity of a hard drive that's been bouncing around in a Jeep on an expedition into the Mojave Desert). Why wouldn't I put a 64GB "hard drive" into the thing that won't ever fail (at least, not because I bounce it around in a Jeep, anyhow)? After all, if I need more space, I can always plug in an external drive and copy stuff off. Frankly, 64GB is plenty of space for everything that the average person ever does with a personal computer, and 128GB is going to be $150 by the end of this year and most decidedly is enough space for the average consumer.

So maybe the end of rotational storage isn't here. But unless some new consumer application comes up that requires huge amounts of storage, it may be that we're seeing the last gasp of rotational storage in consumer hardware. After all, who needs a 500gb hard drive that might crash and fail, if a 128gb SSD costs the same amount of money and is plenty big for everything the average person wants to do with a computer?


1 comment:

  1. I think you're right, and it's also notable that it really wasn't all that long ago that 128gb of disk platters cost $150 ('05?). So if we assume the same growth model in SSD that happened in the HD space, we should be looking at 1 TB SSD no later than 2013.