I am amazed at Moore’s Law. For those who may not be familiar with this great piece of computer history, it goes something like this…
Way back in 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore wrote in a research paper that he believed that the number of transistors able to be placed on a circuit board would roughly double every two years. He could not envision this continuing beyond even ten years, when that would place over 65,000 transistors on a single board. Imagine his delight all these years later when he sees things like this.
Digital cameras record their images on “compact flash” or “SD” memory cards. The SD cards are considerably smaller, and are becoming more favorable because of their size advantage. Their capacity has now caught up with their larger siblings, as evidenced by Kingston’s announcement of a 16 GB SD card.
I won’t bore you with yet another accounting of how much of the Library of Congress would fit on that one card. But consider this:
Currently the largest available conventional hard drives are one terabyte (that’s roughly one thousand gigabytes, or 1 million megabytes) in size. They’re available from all the major hard drive manufacturers. So I did some math and imagined if you were to build a storage device made up of not a high-speed magnetic platter, but a whole bunch of these little SD cards.
The SD card spec says that the cards must be 24mm X 32mm X 2.1mm in size.
A standard 3.5” one terabyte hard drive is roughly 26mm X 101.4mm X 147mm in size.
So, based on my redimentary calculations, that means if you were to attach a whole lot of SD cards together (I figure 200 would work) so that they could fit in the same space, you’d end up with a solid state storage device which requires very little power, weighs 40% less than a hard drive, and stores over three terabytes. And it would work a lot faster than a hard drive, too.
Unfortunately, at a retail price of around $230 each, this whiffy storage device would cost you $46,000. But remember Moore’s Law, and just wait a few years!
[Update as of Feb 1, 2008]: As if to prove how quickly things change, today I saw that Sandisk has announced a 32GB SD card. So take the calculations above and double them. Except for the price, which is $350, so the cost of your 6.5 terabyte solid state disk would be a nice round $70,000.
Update (August 19, 2008): Intel have announced that they’re jumping into the Solid State Disk business: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-10018837-64.html
[Update as of Jan 15, 2009] : Well, the 32GB SDHC cards are still very expensive, but the latest sale I saw just now on 16GB SDHC cards has them at $29.99 (including free shipping!), meaning that the price of our mythical 3TB all-flash hard drive has gone from $46,000 to about $6,000.
(Images courtesy of Kingston, Inc. and Sandisk, Inc.)