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Your Storage Blog: When will Solid State Memory Replace Hard Drives?

Happy New Year and welcome to the first "Your Storage Blog" of 2012. We continue to invite you to ask us storage-related questions, and in return you will have a chance to win a prize. This year we are upping the prize to an awesome 3TB Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk external hard drive if your question is selected!

And to show we?re not against tough questions, our first winner of 2012 comes from Chris G., who asks:

"When will solid state memory completely replace traditional hard drive platters?"

The answer is… it will not. Thank You Chris for your question and congratulations! We’ll be in touch to send you your prize…

But in all seriousness, let?s actually expand on the answer. There are a number of areas within the realm of storage to consider. Primarily, the type of applications being run and the cost of storage are key.

I cannot fault Chris? question because it follows an underlying belief and trend which is that over time, prices will continue to decrease while performance and capacity increase. So it is logical to think that there will be some HDD disruption. And why couldn?t SSDs take over storage needs completely?

One of ways how storage will evolve in the future - hybrid drives such as Seagate Momentus XT

One of ways how storage will evolve in the future – hybrid drives such as Seagate Momentus XT

But what remains key is that with the growth of lower-cost storage, will come with it greater overall growth of storage adoption and consumption. It?s an interesting cycle. If we think back through the past several years, we can point to many new devices that have emerged and grown in the consumer marketplace that have greatly influenced our technology-driven lives. Smart phones and tablets use solid state memory and nobody can discount their impact. But let?s not forget that all of those great applications that those devices consume and access are stored and retrieved by massive enterprise data centers around the world driven by HDDs. And the more people use and adopt consumer devices, the more storage will be needed on the backend.

So why not fill those data centers with solid state storage entirely? Well, cost and availability for one. It would be too expensive to be practical and there?s also not enough available NAND memory to take on such a task.
What about when NAND prices go down? Well, then you?ll still need more storage to make up for the increase in demand (and therefore increase in consumption). And if SSDs trend down in price, HDDs will trend downward as well, continuing to make them an attractive option.

And the cycle will continue?

Seagate Pulsar Solid State Drive

We understand that SSDs certainly have entered the enterprise data center space. In fact, it?s a growing opportunity and became an area of focus for Seagate when it introduced its Pulsar family of SSDs. Pulsar SSDs represent the performance part of our own enterprise product portfolio, but there remains an ample opportunity for enterprise HDDs for storage as far as we can forecast out in time. The needs of enterprise data centers are immense and varied, and HDDs and SSDs fill unique roles in this space.

Seagate views itself as being storage neutral, and SSDs and HDDs really have different strengths in terms of efficiency (IOPS vs. capacity vs. sequential throughput vs. energy usage vs. cost). And this is in part why Seagate sees a strong market for both HDDs and SSDs ? and why they they will coexist.

When talking further about coexistence, we should also make note of hybrid technology, which offers a promise as a ?best of all worlds? solution. With fast boot and launch of applications, blended with massive capacity for content-driven users, all at near-HDD costs, hybrid will continue to be a significant opportunity.

It?s an exciting time in our industry. Solid state technologies only fuel the speed at which content can be created and consumed. IDC in fact has stated that the world?s storage consumption has broken Moore?s Law, and is more than doubling every two years. And more content and consumption are of course beneficial to storage companies like Seagate.

Readers – do you have a storage-related question you’d like to ask us at Seagate? We’ll be giving away drives every month.

Visit the Seagate "StorageMeans Business" blog landing page to submit your question and learn how you can win your own 3TB Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk drive. You can read the official rules here.