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IIIS 2013: The Big Data Drive

T.C. Seow | June 28, 2013
The rapid pace of change in storage technology has not gone unnoticed by both the speakers and attendees at this year's Implementing Information Infrastructure Summit (IIIS), held in Singapore.

But are consumers willing to give up big storage to cloud? To that question, Greenen said consumers would still want speed, i.e. high performing storage devices with consistent performance quality. And HDD vendors continue to innovate in design, bringing three-disk, 1.5TB standard 9.5mm z-height HDD and two-disk 1TB, 7mm z-height HDDs to the market. His prediction is that, as SSDs price move down, hard drive will be replaced at the low end (128GB) which is enough for 90 percent of business apps.

For the enterprise market, HDD shipments track exabyte demands from continued growth of data creation, he said. Nearline HDDs are key to creation of exabyte data volumes, and there are new HDD opportunities for cloud computing and archive purposes. SSDs will drive key performance benefits in servers and storage solutions, and nearline HDDs of higher capacities (from 4TB today), typically of 7,200rpm rotational speed, will be popular.

"HDD vendors are moving into SSDs," said Greenen. For enterprise SSDs, there are three distinct interfaces—SATA, SAS, PCIe—each targetting different workloads. For SAS SSDs, the number one vendor is Hitachi Global Data Systems. Together with Western Digital and Intel, they dominate the SAS SSD market. Interestingly, Seagate is partnering Virident for PCIe implementation. Toshiba too is partnering Violin to build PCIe devices.

There's no doubt that pure flash/SSD storage arrays may affect the performance of the HDD market, he said. Nearline HDDs will diversify to address cloud and archive needs, and slow areal density growth (relating to how much data can be stored on each platter) may force investment in 95mm components, he said.

In the storage device market, Greenen opined that enterprise demand for capacity will drive exabytes and unit shipments higher, while diversifying mobile computing space (characterised by PCs, tablets and smartphones) will suppress mobile PC growth, and hence, HDD growth. SSDs and NAND will play a larger role in primary client storage, while providing needed performance in enterprise storage, he said.

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