According to Shawn Rosemarin, an expert from Pure Storage, the magnetic storage era will come to a close in 2028 with the final mechanical hard drive being sold. Pure Storage is a company that specializes in solid-state storage. The reason behind this shift towards solid-state storage is the power consumption. Approximately 3% of the world’s power is used in data centers, and about a third of that is used for storage, which is mostly spinning disk. Rosemarin believes that if hard drives are eliminated, and the industry moves to flash, it could reduce power consumption by 80-90%. This reduction in power consumption will be significant, especially when NAND pricing continues to fall.
A Brief Look at History
The first commercially available computer that ran on a hard drive with a magnetic disk was the IBM 305 RAMDAC of 1956. It was powered by valves and had 50 24-inch magnetic platters with a total storage capacity of roughly 5MB in conventional binary storage. Over 50 years later in 2007, the first 1TB HDDs were introduced, and today the largest available HDD is Western Digital’s 26TB drive, which is a data center model. The biggest SSD, the ExaDrive EDDCT100, clocks in at full 100TB, and it costs $40,000, demonstrating that SSDs have already won the data density war.
The Future of Storage
While it is uncertain whether the very last HDD will be sold in 2028 or the technology will survive a little longer, the shift to solid-state storage is already underway in desktop PCs. SSD prices have dropped significantly in the last few years, and now a decent 2TB SSD can be purchased for just over $100. Flash memory prices are expected to fall even further this year, and it is expected that by 2028, there will be almost no argument for hard drives. The industry still has to work on cost efficiency, as the price-to-storage ratio for SSDs isn’t too clever yet. Nonetheless, the shift towards solid-state storage is a significant step towards reducing power consumption and increasing data density.