Solid-state storage finds its niche
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|Many SSD options|
But there are other SSD options. The rapid rise of NAND flash-memory technology promises to make
SSD a viable storage option in the mainstream corporate IT storage environment at some point.
Because flash is nonvolatile, it's suitable for long-term data storage; in addition, systems built
on flash technology follow an entirely different price curve because they don't have to incorporate
the power protection and battery backup required by volatile DRAM-based SSD (see "The many flavors
of SSD," below).
As flash storage becomes more feasible--thanks to the benefits of Moore's Law and the SSD
industry's improving economies of scale--even companies that don't calculate their competitive
advantage in microseconds may turn to SSD in the not-so-distant future. The advantages of NAND
flash storage in terms of high performance, low energy usage and reliability may eventually offset
SSD's high cost per gigabyte.
|The many flavors of SSD
|The solid-state disk (SSD) market is rapidly evolving into an
alphabet soup of acronyms as companies try to find a nonvolatile storage technology--ferroelectric
memories, magnetic memories, phase-change|
| memory, polymer memories, nanotechnology memories,
resistivity change memories, micromechanical probe memories, one-time programmable ROM
memories--that delivers the high performance of double data rate with the low cost of hard disk
drives, but without the wear-out problems of flash. In addition to NOR and NAND these
The problem with these technologies is that they're years away, if ever, from
mainstream, large-scale storage production use. "They are unproven, won't scale or can't achieve
the density that NAND will have in, say, three years when they might be widely available," says
Alan Niebel, founder and CEO, Web-Feet Research Inc., Monterey, CA. "At best, some may replace NOR
flash in cell phones or something like that."
- Phase change RAM (PC-RAM)
- Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory (MRAM)
torque RAM (STT-RAM)
- Ferroelectric RAM (FE RAM)
- Nitride read-only memory (NROM)
"Initially," adds Tom Coughlin, president of Coughlin Associates, Atascadero, CA, "you will see
these [technologies] show up in the military or some highly specialized industrial
This was first published in November 2007