A Peek at the ‘Super’ Future of Storage

As flash becomes more and more prevalent in storage architecture, the natural evolution would be increasing the amount of flash in hybrid options. Recent articles have speculated upon the rapid adoption of flash, how it might be further incorporated and its rising cost effectiveness. Flash’s ability to provide great reliable performance, cost-effective nature and adaptability for enterprise use has fueled its mass appeal.

New systems like VMware’s recently announced VSAN 6.2, however, proves that the trajectory of the market isn’t necessarily headed toward flash dominant hybrids. This new version of VSAN includes several improvements in storage efficiency including compression and data deduplication to reduce the store footprint without sacrificing CPU and enhanced data protection using erasure coding that expands storage capacity without compromising resiliency.

According to author Howard Marks, who calculated the probable cost estimates, he concluded that an all-flash VSAN was less expensive than a hybrid even if a modest degree of data reduction was assumed. If Marks’ number crunching proves correct, than the evolution of greater flash hybrids cannot be the future.

At his estimations of a 40% flash hybrid, Marks recognized that a 90% low-endurance/10% high-endurance flash would cost the same as Samsung’s 4 TB SSD. Cost-efficiency as well as other mitigating factors make other possible combinations of technology more likely to fill the need that an increasing high-endurance flash hybrid would fill. Though this trend may represent the likely course of the industry development, it does not mean that some hybrid systems containing around 10% flash won’t be further developed or wouldn’t prove to be a suitable solution for the right businesses.

These hybrids could justify as a worthy investment for many midsize companies that want to maintain that single file system and do not include constantly updating data systems. For larger companies, a lower level of flash can store metadata and allow swift access in a multi-file ecosystem. For future developments, however, increasing levels of flash hybrids or all-flash storage architecture aren’t the only possibilities.

Though it seems like an invention out of a science fiction plot, the future of technology storage could lie in simple minerals like quartz and already developed technology. Within the past couple years, the discovery of what has been christened the ‘Superman memory crystal’ may completely revolutionize storage architecture.

Uncovered by a group of scientists at the University of Southampton, the technology utilizes lasers and nano-structures to record information on a quartz surface. Massive volumes of information are stored by altering the thin surface on a nanoscale. On a typical sized disk, the potential to store up to 360 terabytes of information or about 75,000 DVDs exists.

Particular lasers are used to write the binary code on the surface of the quartz, which can then be read by an optical microscope with a polarizing filter. The technology is recorded in five dimensions (5D), which adds the two dimensions that note the polarity and intensity of the laser beam that created the dot in addition to our traditional three dimensions (3D). Huge storage benefits are not the only advantages present in the Superman crystal.

The scientists guarantee that the memory devices could withstand up to 1000 degrees Celsius.  Additionally, the lifetime of these glass disks seems to be unlimited, providing a technology and data storage that could outlast humanity. Without the cyclical deterioration of spinning disks and even flash, this new technology could prove to be a permanent storage solution. While all current storage options possess short lifespans, the crystal could prove to be a final solution. It would mean an end to the constant change-over location and system of back-up files for large corporate companies.

Corporations and governments aren’t the only large systems that would profit from such technology. Museums, universities and libraries could have much smaller records for preserving the important discoveries and facts of humanity. Like a sci-fi villain might proclaim, the possibilities for such technology seem endless!

Lindsey Cobb

Lindsey Cobb, a Georgia native and former history major, is a technology researcher who is fascinated by past and future of technology. When she is not engrossed in the prophecy of science fiction stories, Lindsey is likely to be planning her next adventurous trip or petting every dog she meets. Contact Lindsey at [email protected]