The computing technology edge moves pretty fast these days, even though it is still not fast enough for some of us. It moves so fast that I often lose sight of where I have been, or I lose sight of just how big this technology wave I am sitting on top of truly is.
When I first started in the computer industry as a basic assembly and installation tech (read screw turner) I was rackmounting 300MB disk drives with SMD interfaces that weighed 125 pounds and took up the entire width of a 19-inch equipment rack. Anyone remember the Fujitsu Eagle? 7-track reel to reel tape drives were a thing then too. I am sure some of you are expecting me to start talking about my lawn and how people need to get off of it. I’m not that old… yet.
Fast forward though the rest of the 80s, the 90s, the advent of Linux based high performance computing and the 2000s (2000s, oughts, millenium, I still don’t know what to call it) to today. Our typical USB key disks are 1000 times larger than that Fujitsu Eagle and weigh 1/1000 as much. I spent part of the summer doing performance and compatibility testing of 6TB 7200RPM SAS 12G drives with the Advanced Format 4K block size in a ZFS environment. I had not completely finished my testing when I received a call from my friendly disk drive manufacturer sales person. He asked me when by testing schedule had openings so he could schedule a delivery of test units of their new 8TB Enterprise disk drive. Eight Terabytes.
Six terabytes to eight terabytes is a jump but not a huge one. We’ve been on that 25-50% increase cycle for a while now. The crazy part is looking back to when I was rackmounting 125 pound disk drives that were 300MB in size. If you had told me then about an eight terabyte drive I would have suggested some psychological counseling or substance abuse program.
We keep pushing the boundaries of physics and material science and the areal densities, processor clock speeds and data rates keep climbing. We keep saying we’ve hit the wall yet someone continues to manage to find a hammer and knock down the wall.
Anyone care to venture a guess at the capacity of the data storage devices that will be leading-edge 30 years from now?