Syzygy

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

the future of SSD drives

After reading about half of Accelerando and thinking about the nature of technology, I got to wondering about what was going on in the field of SSD development. Last I read, one of the major factors limiting SSD speed had to do with differences between read and write speed as well as write-leveling algorithms to ensure a drive-life as long as possible. However, in thinking about this problem of optimal use of SSD given their physical limitations, I got to remembering that other innovation in low-level data storage: separation of the physical drive from the storage methodology (in the form of zfs). Before I read up on it, I was confused about what zfs really brought to the table beyond traditional filesystems. (And the answer for most consumers is, none.) However, it does present some major advantages for those running large servers. (hence why it is a feature relegated to the server version of Snow Leopard) So now the question becomes, when will we get a filesystem (or operating system) specifically designed to not collide with the physical limitations of an SSD? Right now, Apple is in love with many small files, which makes incremental backups feasible and easy, but runs counter to effective SSD management.

I realize that at the moment, standard magnetic recording is still used in 99%+ of the market, but presumably people are going to realize that having TBs of storage space is not going to be useful when media creation has not drastically increased (nor pipe bandwidth). And if SSD development continues, we should soon see the advantages of dramatically faster / slightly more expensive data storage. After all, to the average consumer, the 1 TB (traditional) has very little marginal value over the 256 GB (SSD).

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