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Solid State Storage: How It Works (Page 4/4)

Posted: July 25, 2000
Written by: Tuan "Solace" Nguyen

Atomic Resolution Storage Technology (cont.)


So now that we can achieve insane storage capacity, whatís stopping us from using the technology?

The first problem is finding a suitable medium to record on. It must stay stable at room temperature and its state must not change when the temperature varies by a few degrees or more. And the medium must be able to phase change fast enough.

The second problem is the write head that must emit an accurate electron beam when power is induced. The write head must be able to accurately heat up a spot on the recording medium to either write or erase a bit. Using a low powered beam will let the head read the bit data.

The write head reads the bit by sensing the bit's electrical resistance. And if it is high, then a 1 is denoted while a low resistance says it is a 0. HP is also looking into using optical pickup devices to read the bits instead of switching between low and high current to sense the medium.

Image courtesy of Scientific American

The third problem is developing the reading mechanism to be extremely accurate when moving. Obviously, this makes it less ďsolid-stateĒ. However, its movement is so small that you can call it solid-state. HP needs to develop the mechanism to be able to move with nano-accuracy. A slight nano-meter off and the whole read/write process is destroyed.

The final challenge to overcome is packaging. The device chassis needs to be extremely rugged and must be able to withstand shocks and vibrations of varying degree. The device must also be sealed in a vacuum package because anything can disturb the flow of electrons. The reason for this is the same as for a monitor being in a vacuum.


All these technologies are great for the future. For now however, conventional hard drives will still lead the way. And more promising technologies such as serial ATA and faster SCSI technologies will still offer us more and more storage space and/or faster access speeds. And besides, what will you do with a drive that can store a few terabytes? I doubt you can really fill it (well, some day...). And besides, defragging will take eons. ;)

Well, I hope this guide has given you a glimpse to the future of storage technology. No longer will we be tied down by a few gigabytes. But that is still a few years off. However, the technology is very promising. Right now, a few other technologies are in development. DVD-RAM and DVD-R drives will become mainstream just like CD-R and RW has. And the speed will grow, and writing DVDís will become a norm. That too, will take some time. I wonder sometimes if anyone is still using the 1.44MB floppy disk. CD-R disks are so cheap these days it makes no sense not to get a writer. I know, not all have the money, but there are many writers out there with varying speed and itís really worth the purchase. Besides, if you want to tweak your system, youíll need space for all those tweaking utilities youíll be downloading. And once you get broadband (if you donít already have it) youíll definitely need a burner.

Well, Iíll be writing more on storage technology (such as double layered CDs) and other guides, and more are sure to come. Until then.

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