Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 3rd Jul 2007 20:21 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems Though we rely on them as a mainstay of modern computing, hard drives are really a mixed bag: part storage blessing and part performance albatross. The ongoing digital media revolution could never have gotten off the ground without plentiful, cheap storage, but even so, modern operating systems and programs are typically designed to rely on the hard drive as little as possible. Hard drive access times haven't kept pace with processor clockspeed increases, so computers increasingly employ sophisticated caching mechanisms (e.g. Intel's Turbo Memory tech) to minimize the need for a hard drive-based transfer. Now, researchers at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands believe they've taken the first step towards solving some of the speed problems of a traditional magnet-based hard drive system.
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mispell
by badhack on Tue 3rd Jul 2007 20:33 UTC
badhack
Member since:
2007-06-29

It must be very difficult doing all that "emonstrating"

Reply Score: 0

As always
by Buck on Tue 3rd Jul 2007 20:39 UTC
Buck
Member since:
2005-06-29

The hottest stuff is always just an eternal prototype.

Reply Score: 2

Exciting
by SReilly on Tue 3rd Jul 2007 20:41 UTC
SReilly
Member since:
2006-12-28

...but not there yet. From the article -

The current housing for a laser capable of emitting a pulse just 40fs long would be approximately three foot square and draw up to a kilowatt of power. In addition, the 40-femtosecond pulse speed only represents the time required to write a single bit of data. Longer read/write transactions would be governed by speed rate at which the laser emitted pulses (approximately 80 MHz).

Those are some major obstacles to overcome, not to mention the advances being made in solid state storage. Looks like 3 to 5 years before we see a consumer version.

Reply Score: 3

Just another tradeoff...
by Almafeta on Tue 3rd Jul 2007 21:05 UTC
Almafeta
Member since:
2007-02-22

Looks like laser hard drives will provide higher access speeds and reliability, but much lower data density...

Reply Score: 2

Humm
by acobar on Tue 3rd Jul 2007 21:25 UTC
acobar
Member since:
2005-11-15

Funny, I always thought that the main limitations on hard-disk data transfer were associated to its spindle speed and head movements (seek times) and not the magnetic writting and reading by itself (I did know that they had limitation but thought they were way insignificant when compared with the former ones). Perhaps, this new technology can improve data density? (This is one of the reasons the new big hard-disk are so much fast than the old ones). Can anyone enlighten these points?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Humm
by christian on Wed 4th Jul 2007 13:05 UTC in reply to "Humm"
christian Member since:
2005-07-06

That's right, this technology does not help one jot the biggest performance problem with hard disks, latency. It takes <100us to write 4K to the platter, yet may take >10000us on average to find the area on the platter, two orders of magnitude longer.

So this advance would improve the 1% of the performance issue.

Reply Score: 3

Solid State Storage
by solidsnake on Tue 3rd Jul 2007 21:42 UTC
solidsnake
Member since:
2006-06-04

What are the limitations with building a large solid state based hard drive? I last heard that an Isreali company was marketing one. I would think that following that area of storage technology would be the next logical step.

Anyway, sounds like the laser hard drive technology is some years off.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Solid State Storage
by phoenix on Thu 5th Jul 2007 20:16 UTC in reply to "Solid State Storage"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Price, and size.

Reply Score: 2

Freeze!
by Punktyras on Tue 3rd Jul 2007 21:49 UTC
Punktyras
Member since:
2006-01-07

Wouldn't it be more rational and practical to drive all potential to enhancing a solid state drives? I see no benefit of LHHDs as of today. More power needed, less reliable (because of moving parts), more material needed for manufacturing. It's like putting hi-tech in Model T, hopeing to win Paris-Dakar race.
If they want to work with lasers, holographical HDs are waiting for their hands and minds impatiently.

Reply Score: 2

transputer_guy
Member since:
2005-07-08

TFA says that most OSes are pretty much independent of the HD as much as possible. Thats not very funny, at least on W2k there is still a minimum page file and if the HD power connection fails or you hear that sickening power down/up cycle, the OS usually hangs right away. The same is usually true of other OSes I use.

The only rational future of storage is to rely on the next gen Flash with at least 30MB/s transfer rates for all the small files that might be read on a whim by any lazy search but leave all the huge multimedia videos for real HDs since GB size files as very rarely touched and easy to buffer around intermittent power. That solves many problems, much lower latency for file access, much higher transaction rates, much lower power all round and vastly higher reliability as many have already noted.

The issues involved in improving Flash are orders better understood than messing with lasers, that actually seems to be retro. Flash has a few more generations to go and except for media storage can easily satisfy 99% of the market needs. If HDs are reduced to backing up Flash and holding media files, that changes the requirements of HD design itself as well as OS/File system complexity.

In the past we had holographic storage too, the down side of all laser systems is very slow mechanical systems, think CD/DVD ROM drives, very slow even compared to HDs.

Reply Score: 4

This is ridiculous...
by Obscurus on Wed 4th Jul 2007 03:31 UTC
Obscurus
Member since:
2006-04-20

So from the article we get that:

Laser HDDs will have lower data density, will require a laser bigger than an ATX case, and will require a kilowatt of power, and it still has moving parts. Hmm, that doesn't strike me as a technological advance.

Data storage become more reliable and consumes less power when you take moving parts out of the equation. It is likely that solid state storage will become the norm over the next 5 - 10 years, and there will be very little use for kilowatt laser 3 foot hard drives at that point.

Reply Score: 2

Shark application
by jjmckay on Thu 5th Jul 2007 02:13 UTC
jjmckay
Member since:
2005-11-11

I want to see this technology applied to the foreheads of "sharks." Throw me a frikin' bone here people.

Reply Score: 2