Do We Really Need Bigger Hard Disks?

By David Morgenstern  |  Posted 10-17-2006
Creating bigger—that is, higher-capacity—hard disks is usually the story of the industry, particularly in this year commemorating the invention of rotating storage. And with demand reportedly growing to hold collections of compliance data in the enterprise—not to mention the consumer segment—the search for bigger drives is seen as the natural order of the technology.

Despite the common wisdom, however, some suggest that this single-minded pursuit may mean the storage industry is ignoring some pressing issues. And for some market segments, especially in the enterprise, more capacity may not necessarily be better or even necessary.

At the recent Diskcon conference of IDEMA (the International Disk Drive Equipment and Materials Association), in Santa Clara, Calif., almost every presentation began with recollections of the ancient days of hard drive manufacturing when the memory capacity that now fits in an iPod used to fill a bunker.

Often, the speakers continued the history lesson with a comparison of hard drive advances to those of some other invention, usually automotive.

For example, in his "kickoff" speech, Seagate Technology Chief Technology Officer Mark Kryder said that if a 1956-vintage standard car had undergone the same rate of "progress" as a hard disk, "We ought to be squeezing 146,800 people into that automobile today; the price should have dropped to $15; and have a top speed of almost 1 million miles per hour."

Following the wave of such stories (including his own), Dan Frost of the San Francisco Chronicle blogged a clever response from a reader, which then made its way around a number of storage lists. Here's bit of the post:

"If my car was like my hard drive, I would need to keep an exact copy of everything that I carry in the car because sooner or later the car is going to lock itself, and I will never get into it again. If I decide to go to the trouble of getting into the car, I will have to take it to a specialized mechanic who will probably charge as much as the car cost, with absolutely no guarantee of salvaging anything," the reported author, Dave Hector, observed.

His final shot was: "You get the idea. I love my car and I trust it. I love my computer, but I don't ever, ever, ever trust it."

While this comment is certainly entertaining, it is also educational. It points to a fundamental disconnect between the makers of storage and computing systems and their customers.

Read the full story on eWeek: Do We Really Need Bigger Hard Disks?