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Data Storage - Destination Unknown


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IT giants such as IBM, Sun Microsystems and Intel are all working furiously to come up with viable, reliable and credible solutions to the data problem, but as analysts say, computer users are being confused by all the hype that is being generated over even the tiniest developments.

Solid state drives, for example, are being touted as the next big thing in data storage, but as most SSDs still have their training wheels on, consumers are being led to believe that hybrid systems are perfect patches for the interim. And just to add an extra bit of flavour to the mix, a Dutch researcher claims that the future of storage lies in millions of tiny needles, while IBM is investigating the possibilities of spintronic phenomena.

In January this year Samsung demonstrated their 1.8in and 2.5in 128GB solid state drives that they intend to put into mass production later this year. According to Samsung's director of flash memory marketing, Jim Elliott, their new SSDs will be primarily used in a wide range of corporate notebooks.

In May this year, Intel and Micron Technology doubled the density of solid state drives. The 34nm 32GB multi-level chip provides the best bit storage density in the industry today, at least according to Brian Shirley, the vice-president of Micron's memory group. According to Pete Hazen, director of marketing for Intel's Nand products group, these advancements will accelerate the adoption of SSDs in consumer computing.

Sun Microsystems has vowed to introduce SSDs across most of its server range. This despite the fact that the high cost of solid state drives is still prohibitive for most companies, especially the small to medium sized business market. But Sun believes that the difference will soon be inconsequential, particularly as flash prices are dropping at a rate of around 60% per year.

For all the much publicised developments in SSDs, industry experts and analysts believe that it will be another 5 years before they are commercially viable, especially as doubts exist over their reliability. This is why researchers are still looking at alternative methods for data storage, such as the research into nanotechnology and electric spin - spintronic phenomena - led by IBM's Almaden Laboratory. They believe they can increase storage capacity one hundredfold, and eliminate many of the current disadvantages faced by data storage, such as the production of excess heat. They are still some way from producing their system commercially. According to one of the researchers, it could take as long as 7 years.

Then there is the Dutch researcher, Alexander le Febre, who is working on data storage with needles. He uses a field-emission current signal to arrange nanometre-sharp needles into positions that yield an extremely high storage density media.

No wonder consumers are confused. The only advice that experts have for the bewildered masses is to research all options carefully and shop around before making any final decisions regarding data storage.

Caveat emptor - let the buyer beware

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Sandra wrote this article for the online marketers DTI Data data salvage and recovery one of the most experienced and expert providers of data recovery services in the UK


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