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Hard Disk Sector Consolidates Amid Uncertain Future

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the worried-about-cloudy-weather dept.

Businesses 237

Hugh Pickens writes writes "The WSJ reports that Western Digital will buy Hitachi Global Storage Technologies for about $4.3 billion in cash and stock, leaving only four key hard disk drive vendors — Seagate, Western Digital, Toshiba and Samsung. The hard drive world has been seen as ripe for consolidation, particularly as the rise of tablet computers such as the Apple iPad — which don't use hard drives for data storage — is casting doubt on the future of hard disks. Compared to hard drives, solid-state drives promise greater power efficiency, performance, resistance to physical shock, and run more quietly since they contain no moving parts. But one area that solid-state drives do not improve on their spinning predecessors is in their inevitable movement towards failure. 'SSDs are going to fail just like hard drives will,' says Chris Bross, Senior Enterprise Recovery engineer at Drivesavers Data Recovery. 'Every storage device will have issues regardless of their underlying technology.'"

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Ehh (3, Informative)

intellitech (1912116) | more than 3 years ago | (#35409694)

This isn't all that different from when Seagate bought Maxtor [slashdot.org] . Back then, after the sale, Seagate controlled 44% of the market [arstechnica.com] , compared to nearly 50 percent market share which this deal has bestowed upon Western Digital [wsj.com] .

Re:Ehh (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35409786)

The difference is, maxtor sucks cock.

Re:Ehh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35409882)

I would beg to differ, since, when Maxtor did exist separately from Seagate, Western Digital was shit.

Re:Ehh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35409970)

every maxtor I've had shits all over the place like a german porno.

Re:Ehh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35410026)

every maxtor I've had shits all over the place like a german porno.

heh... i'm gonna have to remember that line!

Re:Ehh (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410478)

/me is thankful for the lack of illustrative link to either kraut feces pornography or rule 34 applied to maxtor hard drives starring in such

No harddrives in the future (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35409696)

There will be no hard drives because we'll just store all our data in the cloud. (ducks)

Re:No harddrives in the future (1)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#35409988)

Mmmm, dark bits. I wonder how much data could be stored in latency. In other words, how much data you could store in saturating all the cables of the world before the data gets to where its going. Like a token ring network, you just have to wait for your data to come back to you. Might be waiting a while though.

Re:No harddrives in the future (1)

calzones (890942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410196)

I've always believed that some forms of future data storage / backup could take the shape of continuing broadcast of bits into space, to some satellite or space craft that beams it back to us. And back and forth.

Re:No harddrives in the future (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410396)

that's similar to "delay line memory", used in early radar and some of the first digital computers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_delay_line [wikipedia.org]

Re:No harddrives in the future (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410448)

What goes around, comes around. (pun intended)

What you describe is essentially one of the earliest forms of memory, delay lines. [wikipedia.org]

Back in the old days... (2)

gregor-e (136142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410712)

Before DNS you'd give the specific route you wanted your email to travel. So instead of a simple flanders@ersys.com, you'd address it like decrwl!alberta!aunro!ersys!flanders. Since there was no reason you couldn't send email to yourself, all you had to do to gank a little extra storage was uuencode your payload and mail it to yourself by the longest route possible. Then set up a .forward file to automatically re-send the email once it made it around the loop. Some email servers would transact just once a day, so you could really add to the latency if you included a couple of those in your address path. And, yeah, people actually did this.

Re:No harddrives in the future (4, Insightful)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410008)

You don't have to duck if you're an AC :]

But AC's point was that datacenters will still use alot of spinning disk until SSDs get a comparable $/byte ratio. Building a 100TB SAN array out of SSDs would run many times that of doing it with traditional spinning disk.

I'm not saying it won't happen, just saying we're probably 3-5 years away from it.

Re:No harddrives in the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35410148)

price/byte not gonna happen anytime soon.
Price/IO's is already around break even.
I'm not talking mac books, which I have no idea. I'm talking data center EMC, Netapp....

Re:No harddrives in the future (0)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410162)

Except that SSDs have a short lifespan compared to traditional disks.

Re:No harddrives in the future (2)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410292)

Uh...no, they don't. MTBFs are rated at 4-10 times most moving parts disks. They only have short lifespans if you're not implementing wear leveling (To whit, I will observe that there's only bulk flash these days that doesn't implement this...).

I honestly wish people would quit propagating falsehoods in this. Seriously.

SSD's and HD's have their domains where they excel at things. As Flash or something better gets cheaper, the SSD's will take over the problem sets that moving parts disks solve. Until they do, they both have a place and it serves NOBODY to be spreading around what're basically outright lies.

Re:No harddrives in the future (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410416)

And there's the rub: no one's done an exhaustive study to determine the real MTBFs of varying leveling algorithms-- and the latency involved given varying degrees of storage over delta-T.

There are several patents that cover the application of the algorithms, but no one's just pounded the living hell out of the drives over their operating ranges sufficiently to tell just how long a drive lasts until the junctions cough blood. Right now, and sadly, HDs are the devils we know. SSDs are often embedded, and therefore more difficult to change out unless they're embodied into an HD form factor. But surgical repair doesn't seem very cost-effective for SSDs, and therefore there might be some long term considerations for SSD use-- especially in fat data centers where data proliferation is a huge problem.

Re:No harddrives in the future (3, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410646)

MLC still has crap life IF you are pushing it hard, for instance using it for a high transaction OLTP database. Even SLC for capacity equal to database size is expected to wear out at around 5 years based on our usage pattern but that's sufficient for our needs and we'll probably need to buy a bigger pair of drives at some time during this servers lifetime anyways =)

Re:No harddrives in the future (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410764)

Well for high performance and reliability you will still want to use RAID even with SSDs. If had a HA data-base server I would add an extra drive as a hot standby and then once every six months or so I would take the standby hot and then swap in a new SSD for the Hot Standby. Repeat for as long as the server is up.

Re:No harddrives in the future (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410842)

Yeah, if you write to them all the time. If Netflix fills it's datacenters with SSDs, writes the video files to them once, and only does reads off of them to stream to customers, I'm sure those SSDs are going to last damn near forever.

Re:No harddrives in the future (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410252)

Unless you need IOPS on the order of magnitude of 100 times faster. Then you move to a hybrid model of some of the higher end Drive Array Chassis offer with features like Dynamic Allocation.

Re:No harddrives in the future (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410562)

Some say the SSD technology will reach a limit in a few years this is because of similair limits as processors have with 25nm manufacturing process and so on. Atleast that is what some say, I don't know if it is true. :-)

Re:No harddrives in the future (4, Funny)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410116)

I for one will not be entrusting my sensitive data to ducks, airborne or otherwise.

Re:No harddrives in the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35410176)

Wise man! The future is snails, not ducks.

Re:No harddrives in the future (1)

morethanapapercert (749527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410318)

but the latency still sucks....

Re:No harddrives in the future (3, Funny)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410564)

they're ok for raw text files, but under compression make a noise like a whoopie cushion

DAMMIT JIM !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35409706)

I'm not really a doctor !!

Modern drives are *too* reliable?? (4, Interesting)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 3 years ago | (#35409716)

For the end-user, it's great that the average lifespan of a drive is measured in years. For the manufacturers, not so good.

Since upgrading my power supplies I've had very few drive failures over the past five years. I've purchased drives to expand storage, but rarely to replace. Across 10 laptops I have replaced two failed drives in two years. On the desktops, with about twenty drives between 5 machines, I've replaced maybe two units in two years. These run continuously, are rarely rebooted, and have semi-annual reboots to replace fans and clean out the dust.

Re:Modern drives are *too* reliable?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35409890)

Funny. The four drives that have failed on me in the past 2 years (out of 30 altogether) have all been WDs. No problems with the Seagates, Toshibas (only 2) or Hitachi (6).
Yes yes, YMMV. Just giving my experience.

Re:Modern drives are *too* reliable?? (1)

sparky1240 (1387499) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410878)

That's because you did 2 intelligent things: You got good power supplies and left the machines running. It's the constant on/off/on which causes the drives to spin up/down/up that create a lot of wear on the drives - not to mention the 'surges' when the computer is turned on.

Not saying anything new (1)

Khoa (935586) | more than 3 years ago | (#35409738)

>>SSDs are going to fail just like hard drives will

Like saying old stuff fail and get replaced. You can't, as hard disk producer, market products with high or infinite durability and be profitable. You want your shit to fail (within reason) so that people will spend more money on your products. We can very produce a lightbulb that never dies but we're not going to.

Re:Not saying anything new (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35409838)

no, we can make a light that lasts average of 7-10 years continuously (neon bulb), but there's a known common failure mode for any other "light bulb" technology that makes lifetime even shorter than that.

Re:Not saying anything new (2)

Sensible Clod (771142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410106)

Actually, the idea of an everlasting light bulb isn't that far-fetched. [centennialbulb.org]

Re:Not saying anything new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35410606)

Actually, the idea of an everlasting light bulb isn't that far-fetched. [centennialbulb.org]

Not sure how serious you are, but it seems people always trot out that tired example. I too was amazed when I first heard about that light bulb. When I saw it - not so much. It hardly produces any light at all (its at 4W*, which may be decent for a LED, but for an incandescent bulb, is pitiful). Finally - the fact that it has only been turned off and on again a few times in its life, makes it an unfair comparison to 'real life' light usage. Heating up (by a lot!) and cooling down again on a regular basis, creates a lot of stress on normal bulbs. I will admit to ignorance on how on/off would affect newer types of lamps (and laziness on not researching it now), but I would hazard a guess that across the board, keeping any electrical light source permanently on, will help its lifespan considerably when compared to lights that are turned on and off every time it gets dark...

*Mandatory reference link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centennial_Light

Re:Not saying anything new (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410710)

of the billions of light bulbs made in the last century, there are a handful that would be the tail end of the bell curve for each kind of technology. That doesn't change that the average life of carbon filament bulbs from the early 20th century is about the same as tungsten (on the order of 1000 hours) but with much less light output.

Re:Not saying anything new (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410060)

>>>We can very produce a lightbulb that never dies

Citation please. Using a standard incandescent, the filament eventually burns away, and the bulb dies.

And I've not had much success with compact fluorescents either. Seems they don't last any longer than a normal bulb (most likely because they are in the ceiling and overheat).

Re:Not saying anything new (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35410234)

You can make a light bulb that never dies, never as described by lifespan of a human being. These can even be made from filament - just have it at a lower power so it glows dim red, instead of bright white. 10-9 tor vacuum would also help.

But if you want real white light "light bulb", you can make light bulb from plasma in a sealed container exited by external electromagnetic field. The light bulb itself is just gas in a hermetically sealed glass container. There is nothing to burn out. The lifespan of the device is the lifespan of the external electrical components, and these can be decades.

Or a LED light bulb. Lasts "forever" if properly designed.

But no one wants to buy a $500 light bulb. People would rather spend $1 every year and replace any broken ones.

Re:Not saying anything new (2)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410490)

Do keep in mind, though, those years figures are estimates based on the effective number of hours of runtime before they expect the bulb's phosphor to quit working as well or the start element failing in Fluorescents. It's not a continuous lifespan- it's something based off an assumption that most bulbs will be on for 4-6 hours per day tops.

With 10k hours, that equates to about little over a year of continuous duty (416 days...). If you presume 4 hours per day use, like they tend to, that's an estimated 7 year lifespan. An incandescent won't last more than a year to two under that service in most situations. Some of the first CFLs out that I'd been using just got replaced about 8 months ago. Over a decade's worth of service on those bulbs and they just recently failed. Some of them that get heavy use (6-7 hours in some cases) don't last more than 2 or so as much because the on-and-off wears out the start device in the bulb or there's cheap overall electronics that just couldn't cut it to begin with. Your mileage may vary, but the estimates are pretty close if you carefully read the packaging and realize the lifespan will vary proportionate to your usage. Some of the LED bulbs may go a better distance since their stated lifespan would be dependent on the drive electronics and the LED- the current crop of those direct replacements state 15000-30000 hours lifespan of which I'd expect most of those to live that out fully unlike CFLs because there's less start stresses on those bulbs.

Re:Not saying anything new (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410346)

Ideally, as a HDD maker, you want your hard disks to work indefinitely, and have people buy newer models based on capacity, speed, features, or a combination of the above.

Even without factoring in drive failures, HDDs leave circulation for good for another reason -- data confidentiality. When selling machines, any company that has an interest in security is going to be yanking HDDs from all boxes going out the door and melting/shredding/smashing them to ensure that no data present on those drives ever is recoverable.

As for drives needing degaussed, it would be nice to have some mechanical feature on the drive where a drive can be destroyed easily, for example, a mechanical spring-loaded lever which shatters the platters if they are made of ceramic. Couple that with a transparent window to confirm destruction, and that would be a lot easier (although less fun) than thermite packs.

Re:Not saying anything new (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410568)

Most consumers don't give a crap about who made the disk sitting in their box on their desk, just that it has enough space for justin bieber mp3s and pictures of their children.

Besides, I'm willing to bet with an off the cuff guess given the reliability of a given disk, the reason why consumers find themselves with new disks largely isn't replacement after failure, it's most likely due to a new device purchase. So it really is in the best interest of the drive makers to make sure the drives are durable before they leave the factory.

Wear leveling algorithms and proprietary firmware (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410766)

This brings up an interesting issue: will SSD manufacturers start pulling dirty tricks like shipping suboptimal wear-level algorithms and thwarting attempts to install or use third party firmware (that would presumably have better wear levelling and therefore increase the life of the drive)? It would be pretty easy for them to market "consumer" grade SSDs that break down faster than "industrial strength" SSDs. I could even see SSD manufacturers using the DMCA to try to stop hackers from distributing better firmware images (yes this is a bit of FUD, but it seems plausible).

Future not so uncertain anymore (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35409768)

After it seems clear the rewrite count is going to hell - 5000/cell for 32 nm, 3000/cell for 25 nm, SSDs are going to have a helluva time catching up in cost/GB. People will still want huge storage disks, data centers still need storage, hard disks aren't going away. The SSDs do rock for speed and is making huge performance gains but that doesn't bring the cost down. The combination of a blazing fast 100GB SSD and huge, slow 2TB HDD seems to be the way forward.

Re:Future not so uncertain anymore (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410336)

Actually where I think SSDs will have the biggest impact is on the "prosumer" disks(such as the raptor or 7200 RPM hard disks). There is just no reason to spring for those disks anymore, they don't have the size of their slower brethren or the speed of the SSDs. There is still however tons of room in the portable storage and enterprise markets.

Re:Future not so uncertain anymore (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410358)

That's really hard to judge. My biggest hard drive is on my laptop. It's 320 GB. It's nowhere close to full. I'm probably using about 100 GB. A significant chunk of that is OS, Installed Programs, and Paging file. I only use about 20 GB for data, including audio and video. I used to save a lot more stuff on my drive. But with the way internet is going lately, I find it easier to just download something again than to bother keeping it around on my computer, or even burning it to DVD. I could forsee a point in the near future (5-10 years), where there's a service like netflix, but with all the movies, and others similar services for books, music, and other media, where I could just download everything i needed on demand, and I would have no need to bother with locally storing most of the data that currently takes up so much of people's hard drives.

Re:Future not so uncertain anymore (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410786)

I do more than 20GB per week just from my PVR. Sure if I watch stuff that goes down but I often get caught up with large projects at work and won't watch anything for a couple months and then have some downtime and catch up. At one point I had a backlog/archive of 1TB and had to delete stuff I wasn't planning on watching.

Re:Future not so uncertain anymore (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410844)

But in the future it could seriously be the norm to just download on demand all that back content you didn't watch. In recent years, I've been using my PVR less and less because of the ability to watch something after the fact either on the network's website, on demand via digital cable, or for older content on services like Netflix that would also have TV shows. In an ideal situation, PVRs wouldn't exist because you could just download everything when you wanted to watch it. And you wouldn't have to remember to record something, you could always go back and watch something, even if you didn't know you wanted to watch it ahead of time. Which I think is half the reason you have such a large backlog of stuff to watch on your PVR. You have to record it just in case you maybe want to watch it later. In reality you are probably only going to watch 10% of the stuff you record, but you record it anyway, just incase.

Re:Future not so uncertain anymore (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410832)

Of course there are usage patterns for which even such services would make only a negligible dent in storage requirements. For example, user-generated content is unlikely to be streamed on-demand and such content can grow to quite significant sizes. When I was more actively involved with Neverwinter Nights I had about ten gigabytes worth of hakpaks, modules and the related pizzazz on my hard drive. A few total conversions can make a game install huge.

Likewise with selfmade music or movies. A high-quality sample library here, a few hours of uncompressed video there and you're in the market for another 2 TB hard drive. For a regular consumer scenario where you just take something, consume it and then toss it off the system 320 GB seem like a lot. For scenarios where you intend on keeping things (even good, large mods can just drop off the internet) or even make them yourself, 320 GB is pretty small (claustrophobic if you're filming a lot).

Hard drives will stay for a good while until we have figured out how to cheaply build reasonably reliable SSDs an order of magnitude denser than today's. The markets will be different and SSDs will steal a good deal of even today's HDD market but they don't cater to all needs yet.


(That's also ignoring the fact that in some areas a model where you download several dozen gigabytes in one day (say, one HD movie) at appropriate speeds isn't going to go over well with ISPs who already have trouble keeping up with today's demand.)

Re:Future not so uncertain anymore (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410452)

After it seems clear the rewrite count is going to hell - 5000/cell for 32 nm, 3000/cell for 25 nm, SSDs are going to have a helluva time catching up in cost/GB.

With these reduced process sizes come higher capacities, so the overall erase limit as measured in GB on these devices ends up being nearly the same per unit area (32*32 = 1024, 25*25 = 625 .... 1024/625 is approximately 5000/3000)

Furthermore, the erase limits as measured in GB of the higher capacity SSD's were and continue to be enormous. The (now old) 80GB X25-M drive can sustain over 200GB per day of block erases for over 5 years.. (Intel figures it to be "only" equivalent to 100GB/day in random writes due to write amplification and wear leveling inefficiencies .. note that that is larger than the entire drive, including its 16GB of hidden space)

The flash technology can go down to much lower erase cycles as long as capacities per unit area grow in lock-step with it.. it would still be "only" 200GB/day of erase limit over 5 years for the same package size.

Re:Future not so uncertain anymore (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410538)

Heh... I've held that this is probably going to be the case for many applications moving forward for the near to medium future. It should be noted that there's several technologies that're waiting in the wings to "replace" Flash memory and pretty much all of them, if they end up being successful, will render this discussion moot. :-D

Re:Future not so uncertain anymore (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410640)

I can't remember the last time I saw a non-geek's laptop or any work laptop with more than 40 or 50 gigs of space used. There's a real opportunity for SSDs to enter the mid-range laptop market and business market with 120-160gig drives.

Price isn't great now, but the performance is great. Once people get to used to an SSD laptop they'll start to hate their mechanical disk based laptop. They'll be asking "why is this so slow to boot up and why is it slower than yours?" Just like they are now used to multi-core CPUs. Not to mention, a power savings depending on usage.

I have an 80gig intel in my desktop and a 500gig media drive. On my laptop I have a 60gig OCZ. It just kills me to use a big slow drive nowadays.

Also, I believe the economics of this works out. I've seen lots of companies and end users pay $100-$200 extra for a CPU with .1mhz faster clock. The real world benefit of having a super-fast disk greatly outweighs any CPU upgrade. Heck, most of the time your CPU is sitting there waiting for the disk.

So... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35409792)

Who bought Fujitsu?

Re:So... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35410124)

Sold to Toshiba, Oct 2009.

http://www.fujitsu.com/us/services/computing/storage/hdd/

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35410840)

Who bought Fujitsu?

Toshiba

Punny! (4, Interesting)

seanmcelroy (207852) | more than 3 years ago | (#35409794)

The "hard disk sector" consolidates, hmm?

For a moment, I did a double take and thought of Stac [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Punny! (4, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410014)

Hard disk sector consolation simply makes it easier to read all the companies in a single pass...

Re:Punny! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35410362)

Yeah, the hard disk sector play on words had me too. However, this isn't an advertisement for harddrives or defunct companies, but Apple's iPads disguised as a harddisk news article. How in the world does Apple do this? I mean the iPad uses flash storage like every other portable device has in the past 10-15 or so years (including iPhones and iPods). Apple's marketing is only challenged by Google's.

Re:Punny! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35410620)

And iPaqs and Zunes. Why name only Apple products in your rant about Apple marketing ubiquitousness?

Re:Punny! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35410534)

The hard disk sector is being defragmented.

In other News.... (5, Funny)

Xeleema (453073) | more than 3 years ago | (#35409796)

"...and to commemorate their latest acquisition, Western Digital announces a new line of ultra-green drives...a spokesman had this to say..."

"Yep, these drives are so power-conservative, they actually stop consuming power permanently 30% faster than our previous line. We're calling them 'Hitachies'"

sdd are still a little to small and with high 4g p (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35409798)

sdd are still a little to small and with high 4g prices from At&T $10 a GIG?

HDDs not going away (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35409818)

HDDs are NOT going away any time soon.

I bought 8TB of storage over the weekend for $300. You can get what, 120GB of SSD storage for that? I use 6TB of it (RAID5) so if one fails, I'll live.

Can't beat that value proposition with SSDs at the moment. Also, as process sizes continue to shrink, PE endurance is only getting worse. A good hard disk will last 10 years in normal use. I doubt we'll ever see an SSD last that long.

Re:HDDs not going away (1)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35409942)

Raid is not a backup, FYI. And if you bought them all at the same time from the same place, chances are, when one finally dies from old age, more than one may perish simultaneously.

Re:HDDs not going away (2)

Cocoronixx (551128) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410040)

Raid is not a backup, FYI.

I'm having a tough time locating in the GP where he portrayed RAID as a backup solution?

Re:HDDs not going away (3, Interesting)

toastar (573882) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410330)

Raid is not a backup, FYI.

I'm having a tough time locating in the GP where he portrayed RAID as a backup solution?

Duh, If you do backups you don't need Raid

*Ducks*

Re:HDDs not going away (2)

Cocoronixx (551128) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410450)

*head asplodes*

Re:HDDs not going away (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410480)

Mission Accomplished

Re:HDDs not going away (4, Insightful)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410228)

Raid is not a backup, FYI.

Parent said he was using RAID to mitigate failure, not to provide backup. One might use a RAID setup as part of a data backup system, but this was not described by the parent post.

And if you bought them all at the same time from the same place, chances are, when one finally dies from old age, more than one may perish simultaneously.

The likelihood of two devices failing at the same time due to old age is incredibly small, unless by "old age" you mean something like "a meteorite striking the storage system".

Re:HDDs not going away (2)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410866)

Sibling death in storage systems in pretty widely reported, however it's generally noted at the beginning of the bathtub curve more than the end.

Re:HDDs not going away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35410064)

Apple lovers, get over yourself thinking Apple is changing the world. The HD consolidation has nothing to do with the iPad. All kinds of devices made in the last 10 years have storage without a moving HD with platters. Think every device that uses NAND memory. HDs are commodity items, same as with just about every component in the PC. New moving platter HD design is going no where fast, hasn't for the last 5-10 years, and the market is saturated with products from all makers that are almost exactly the same. Big money is not there and changes to the technology and manufacturing of them isn't happening. It is not worth investing more resources into it anymore --> consolidation. Who goes out of their way to buy a Plextor, Panasonic or Yamaha cdr for their computer these days? Same thing happened there man.

Re:HDDs not going away (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410186)

I'd be awfully cautious of that. I had two drives mirrored in a RAID1 and thought i was safe. Then, my power supply exploded and fried both drives at the same time (several chips on the circuit boards were literally smoking).

Always a good idea to keep external backups of some kind that are not connected to the PC. Even using an external drive can be damaged.

This is how prices rise in the HDD sector (1)

SkimTony (245337) | more than 3 years ago | (#35409828)

Once upon a time, Seagate and WD both sold reliable disks in the consumer space. Then, Seagate bought Maxtor, and Seagate's consumer grade disks quickly fell to match the reliability of Maxtor's consumer disks. Seagate's "Enterprise" disks, at 2-3x the cost, are still decent, but why buy those when you WD's consumer-grade disks are still reliable? And now we won't be able to trust WD's lower-priced disks, and we'll have to buy REA3s or 4s (or 5s?) to be able to trust our spindles.

It looks like the price of hard disks just doubled. Impressive.

The tried & trusted will still rule the seriou (2)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 3 years ago | (#35409860)

'SSDs are going to fail just like hard drives will,' says Chris Bross, Senior Enterprise Recovery engineer at Drivesavers Data Recovery. 'Every storage device will have issues regardless of their underlying technology.'

I do not see SSDs playing a major role anywhere near the traditional large database especially in financial institutions. In our trials with PostgreSQL that had 17 tables, the largest of which had 23.1 million records and 9 columns on an DELL notebook, these drives failed after about week of intense read/writes!

My former boss, who was a closed source stooge blamed the DB. Others like me knew these SSDs were not yet ready for prime-time. By the way all this was about 2 years ago. Technology could have changed for the better now.

Re:The tried & trusted will still rule the ser (1)

georgewilliamherbert (211790) | more than 3 years ago | (#35409982)

Not really improved. I burned out a REALLY GOOD (best available) SLC SSD in 7 months with a mirrored production workload at a previous jobsite not that long ago.

Poof. All gone.

At the FAST conference, was yet another presentation on SSD lifetime burnout mechanisms, news not actually improving in the slightest so far on life. SLC is not good enough; MLC is toast in write-intensive apps.

Phase-change memory or one of the others, with millions of write cycles per bit, may pull this out, but Flash is not proving good enough for enterprises.

Re:The tried & trusted will still rule the ser (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410146)

I think both your boss and you need a refresher course in technology.

Two years ago, Consumer SSD didn't have proper TRIM features. The drive probably didn't die, just needed a wipe and rewrite. And you were probably using consumer grade OCZ drives, and not the better (and way more expensive) commercial drives, which had the better chips in them (and TRIM).

If you were doing Database transactions on SSDs, you'd realize that there is no way for HDD to compete with SSD in IOPS. If you really wanted and needed IOPS for your Database (doesn't sound like you did, since you're using a laptop), then the cost for the drive would barely register in the decision to buy the drive.

Suffice it to say, your anecdotal evidence means very little to those people who can see the benefit of SSDs. My professional opinion is that most of the SSDs being sold right now are going to Database Server farms, for the IOPS alone, and only the ones that don't make the grade end up on the consumer market.

Re:The tried & trusted will still rule the ser (1)

georgewilliamherbert (211790) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410494)

I've tried to do large database server farm tests on modern enterprise SSDs with TRIM, the best wear load leveling, SLC, etc. They go "poof" at moderate (few months, for my loads) lifetimes.

IOPS x Lifetime / price is a metric I find useful. Unfortunately, it makes SSD look even worse than it does just on a price basis 8-(

Re:The tried & trusted will still rule the ser (2)

Maeslin (1739760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410246)

considering SSDs have only a limited number of write cycles, database work with heavy writes would likely be better served by RAM disks if you want ridiculously low access times and very high speeds. Something along the lines of a HyperOS HyperDrive or an ACard ANS-9010 / 9010B would likely be better suited but those solutions also have their own issues (namely a very steep price and loss of data when the battery runs out)

Re:The tried & trusted will still rule the ser (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410304)

"My former boss, who was a closed source stooge blamed the DB. Others like me knew these SSDs were not yet ready for prime-time. By the way all this was about 2 years ago. Technology could have changed for the better now."

That is almost certain. First of all, everybody that is serious in the field will tell you that you that that kind of application requires a enterprise (read: SLC flash drive). Chances are that the SSD you've tested with was an older drive with the failed Micron chipset, or maybe even older tech. If you compare those niche products with e.g. a well tested Intel SLC drive with TRIM support, you'll see not just a huge performance boost over the older SSD. Don't forget that earlier flash drives were mostly of interest because of high reliability (as in: crash resistant) and power and weight ratios.

Of course, if you're a real player with some money to spend:
https://shop.sun.com/store/product/8be96180-a21a-11dd-a2a2-080020a9ed93 [sun.com]
# Over 1 million IOPS

That oughta do it, especially made for DB applications :)

For home users, the IOPS of a Vertex 2 drive should be ample, for workstations I would still go for the G2 - also because of reliability.

Re:The tried & trusted will still rule the ser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35410598)

Or you can buy a Fusion-IO Card for a fraction of the price...

Passing of Hitachi, IBM. Good alternative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35409902)

Doh.Hitachi has a median good quality. I'm pretty sure this will be another case of "less good manufacturer buys good manufacturer, customers must soon seek alternatives.."

As anecdote, I've had better experiences with Toshiba and Samsung than with Seagate, but not enough to really know. Is there any actual info on quality anywhere?

Hitachi Deathstar (1)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35409962)

I've never been able to get myself to buy Hitachi drives after the deathstar episode.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitachi_Deskstar [wikipedia.org]

Re:Hitachi Deathstar (2)

Burdell (228580) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410288)

Just about every major drive vendor has had a similar problem at one point or another. Western Digital's original 3 platter 1.6G drives failed in droves, eventually leading them to replace all of them with a 2 platter version for free. More recently, Seagate had a bad problem with their Barracuda 7200.11 model line; are you also going to avoid Seagate?

It happens to almost everybody at some point. Do you not buy Intel products because of the Pentium FDIV or F00F bugs? DeWalt power tools used to be great, then for a while they were basically rebadges of the cheap Black and Decker stuff, and then they got better. Lots of companies seem to build a name-brand reputation, get complacent and drag their own name through the mud. The good ones pull themselves out of it and rebuild the name; it is largely about how they respond to a major screw-up than the screw-up itself.

Re:Hitachi Deathstar (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410862)

The only reason that was momentous (no pun intended) was because it was IBM that it happened to. At the time, they were the authority on reliable storage, and it came as a bit of a shock to everyone.

solid-state drives - promises... promises (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35409964)

"solid-state drives promise greater power efficiency, performance, resistance to physical shock, and run more quietly"

And cost 10 times more. I can buy a 2 terabyte hard disk drive for ~$100. Can I do the same with solid state? Nope. (That is why Nintendo and Sega moved from Solid state cartridges to discs - they cost less per megabyte.)

Re:solid-state drives - promises... promises (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410180)

Who the fuck wrote this anyway?

solid-state drives promise greater power efficiency, performance, and resistance to physical shock; and run more quietly

solid-state drives promise greater power efficiency, performance, and resistance to physical shock, while providing more quiet operation

solid-state drives promise to provide more quiet operation while delivering greater power efficiency, performance, and resistance to physical shock

Re:solid-state drives - promises... promises (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410354)

That just depends whether you care about cost/size, or cost/IOPS. SSDs are reasonably priced by the latter measure.

Ripe? I'm not sure I agree. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410010)

While consolidation can achieve economies of scale, I think any such economies have long been reached. It bothers me when one industry gets down to only 3 or 4 major players. We have seen monopoly-related problems in just about every industry that has gone that way.

On a different note:

"But one area that solid-state drives do not improve on their spinning predecessors is in their inevitable movement towards failure."

I would argue that it's actually much worse. It is possible to recover most or all of the data from most hard drives that fail. Try that with the newer SSDs.

SSD failure improvement (1)

sumiflow (1163859) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410036)

I disagree that "solid-state drives do not improve on their spinning predecessors is in their inevitable movement towards failure." SSDs wear out gracefully so that you can still read your data after many failures. Spinning drives just die and you go to a backup. To me, that's a major improvement.

Re:SSD failure improvement (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410090)

Most spinning disks, give signs that they are about to give up the ghost. My understanding is that SSDs work perfectly fine one moment and the next they are completely unresponsive.

Re:SSD failure improvement (1)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410788)

Anecdotal evidence: I have been able to recover data from a dieing HDD. Of course, when the magnetic head is scratching the surface of the drive, there's not much to be done about it except to open it up for the free magnet and new potential [geardiary.com] clock [technabob.com]

Ahhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35410054)

"hard disk sector" - I see what you did there

Death of the HDD - not yet.... (5, Interesting)

loose electron (699583) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410066)

The HDD death has been predicted a few too many times...

Its still the cheapest storage with easy access out there.

Consolidation is not only expected, but somewhat necessary.
I spent 15 years in the HDD industry, and some things to understand:

- It takes roughly 70 people and 6-9 months to design and develop a new disk drive.
- product lifetime has been as short as 2 months and as long as 1 year.
- typical product lifetime is 3-6 months.
- A company needs to have multiple design teams doing multiple product designs phased for phased product releases.
If the product is late, its already obolete, and will not sell.
If the product is slightly behind the times, it will not sell.

Because of the above NRE expenses are huge, so margins or volumes have got to be huge, to make any money.
Margins went to nothing many years back, so the volumes need to be huge. Thus fewer players are the results of all that.

Because of the above, dozens of companies that used to make disk drives are now long gone.

All of that said, the "death of the HDD has been greatly exaggerated"
- its cheap, high volume storage, and all in all "fairly" reliable.

Intel SSD's have low return to manufacturer (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410096)

If my information is correct, the number of defects for SSD's are about the same as HDD's, with the exception of the Intel SSD's, which cut the number of returns in about 4 (can't find the article using Google, if anybody has a link?). I've returned mine because of a failed firmware update to remove a controller bug. I would not be amazed if the actual number of failed drives is about 8 times lower than HDD. So sure they fail, but I think that the failure rate will be more like that of DRAM than HDDs. And current HDD's already have a rather low return rate IMHO.

As for the early adopters: this is definitely the year of the SSD, but don't expect a super smooth ride yet. I've got to upgrade my Vertex 2 because of power management issues, but somehow I cannot flash the drive (cannot put it in secure mode). My USB to S/PATA connector does not even support SATA commands. Really annoying stuff - but you'll still have to pry the SSD's from my cold dead hands :)

Re:Intel SSD's have low return to manufacturer (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410282)

Really the biggest complaint I have with SSD's right now are either mobo/chipset manufactures. Or with the people writing the ACHI drivers, and not checking for compatibility. I ran into a lovely bug with my Vertex series(though it applies to nearly all and randomly) drive, it involves suspend and recovery states and a badly written driver.

When the drive is put into a suspend or sleep state, and you 'wake' the PC up, the drive will randomly lock down the road. And even if it doesn't lock, on a reboot the SSD may not be accessible, in either the BIOS or by any normal detection means. The solution is one of those low to medium arcane recovery methods. Either fully power don the PC and hope, if you can see it in the BIOS you may need to overwrite the entire SSD. It may also require a hot plug, followed by a reboot to access the drive. In the worst case, the SSD may need to be RMA'd because the end consumer doesn't have the tools to fix the problem.

I do like them, but some people need to be beat to death for making stupid mistakes.

Only four vendors (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410164)

Yeah, ok.. How many factories or labs, etc are there competing against each other? This is a lot like petroleum. There's not much competition at all.

Bad news (1)

dmesg0 (1342071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410258)

Bad news, especially for the enterprise users:

- HGST drives quality is above the rest of the industry, it may easily change after the acquisition.

- HGST are often willing to invest in relatively niche products (recent example is 3TB 7.2k drives with SAS interface, no one else makes them). WDC will probably kill any product line that doesn't sell really huge quantities.

Making SSDs inhouse. (2)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410348)

While SSDs and HDDs serve the same function the technologies are pretty different, so it's much easier for Intel and various RAM manufacturers to start making SSDs than it is for WD to transition to them.
Last I checked WD's SSDs were just a rebranded product made by some other company.

I guess Hitachi Global Storage Technologies have all they need to manufacture SSDs in house and I'm assuming the other HDD companies will have to make some acquisitions of their own to stay competitive.

Nice friggin plug at the end of the "submission" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35410368)

I thought perhaps this was going to be a thoughtful write-up on the shift of the market from platter to SSD storage. But alas, it's yet another ad masked as an article submission on /. *sigh*

Am I the only one who thought... (2)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 3 years ago | (#35410728)

...that the submission should have had a different title:

Hard Disk Sector Defrags ?

rofl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35410884)

'SSDs are going to fail just like hard drives will,' says Chris Bross, Senior Enterprise Recovery engineer at Drivesavers Data Recovery. 'Every storage device will have issues regardless of their underlying technology.'"

ahahaha, no vested interest here
that's an almost unbelievably asinine comment

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