Dance of the disk drives: Know your SATA from your FATA?

Michael Desmond
This article originally appeared in "Storage" magazine in their June issue. For more in-depth articles like this, go to

Keeping track of disk technology used to be easy: Each year, you could count on capacities to go up, performance to improve and drives to become more reliable. But those metrics don't apply to what's happening today.

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1-Tracking disk technology 
2-Flattening capacity curve
3-Serial switch over
4-Form over function
5-Category crossovers

Manufacturers such as Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST), Maxtor Corp., Seagate Technology and Western Digital Corp. no longer focus on doubling capacities or spinning platters at faster and faster rates. Instead, emerging products are being tailored to increasingly specific missions, from affordable ATA drives for nearline storage to compact form-factor designs for blade server environments. New lower-cost drives are ushering in new ways to do backups.

Storage managers should see an explosion of disk storage options, punctuated by four key trends in the next 12 to 18 months:

  • Leveling off of capacity growth
  • New serial-based drive interfaces
  • Smaller form factor drives
  • Increasing drive category crossover

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