Flash to replace hard disks in laptops next year?

James Stoup has written an interesting piece speculating that Flash will be the new storage medium for laptops. He bases his speculation on the recent Samsung announcement that 16GB flash drives that can be combined to form one larger 32GB drive.

James then notes that many current iBooks ship with 40gb hard drives so a 32gb capacity would be close enough to that to not matter to many people. Also, flash memory has advantages over hard disks – it can be read from and written to faster than hard disks, it consumes far less power than hard disks and is much smaller – allowing for smaller laptops with longer battery life.

However, these flash drives won’t be available until next year and does anyone really think that 32gb will be enough capacity for a laptop in 2006?

To be fair to James – I do think he is correct overall – i.e. I do believe that flash memory will replace hard drives in laptops but I think it is a couple of years out yet.

7 thoughts on “Flash to replace hard disks in laptops next year?”

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  2. As nice as it would be (and hard-disks do seem to be one of the main bottlenecks in computers these days), its a long way away from being practical.

    1. Flash memory has a limited number of writes
    2. Flash memory is not cheap

  3. Lee,

    you are, of course, correct on both counts but I expect flash memory to improve on both counts in the coming years and with economies of scale to the point where it will surpass platters as the medium of choice for data storage.

  4. There should be no problems with read/write, unless you do an incredible amount of work with your machine. According to this page, the 16GB NAND chip can handle 100,000 rewrites reliably. I’d say this would be a fantastic resource for a file archive. I have, for example, 400-500 GB of data that I don’t rewrite – dvd backups, photos, my music collection and the like.

    Another advantage of Flash-based storage, over cylinder-based, is that Flash, if I understand it correctly, does not require a spin-up (or similar) period when it turns on. My archive is spread over several hard-drives, and my work is frequently paused while the machine boots up a disk I haven’t touched all day.

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