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Small disks, big specs

Ezine

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Encryption can occur at many levels, but not all users feel disk-based encryption is necessary. "We had a conversation about drive-based encryption recently with Sun and decided we'd rather do software encryption," says Busdiecker at The Research Foundation. He feared drive-based encryption might complicate backup.

Sandhills Publishing isn't interested in drive-based encryption either. "At that point, the disk starts getting proprietary. We don't need that level of security," says the firm's Mehring. The company prefers drives to be as interchangeable as possible.

As density increases, error correction becomes increasingly critical. Drives currently use a 512-bit block for error correction. Under development is a 4K block, referred to as a long block. The bigger block will not only enable better error correction, but may free up capacity. "Longer blocks reduce the number of pointers required compared to the small block," explains Schulz, which effectively frees space previously taken by all those pointers. Long-block error correction isn't shipping yet.

Object-based HDD represents an effort to make the disk aware of the content being stored. "It's about tracking meta data at the drive level, almost like an object-based file system," reports Black. Today, object-based disk is a research lab initiative only.

Expect HDD to be around for a long time to come. Tape and solid-state

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storage have their places, but with continued research and development, HDD will remain the storage mainstay.

This was first published in September 2008

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