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Getting rid of the mechanical HDD.


Guest Keatah

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Guest Keatah

The mechanical HDD = the slowest form of memory in a system.

 

The problem stems from software technology having had advanced faster than hardware in the 80's and 90's. The first computers like Apple II and C64 and Atari 800 had all their OS data stored in RAM. But programmers quickly outgrew the genuinely limited 48K bytes of RAM in those early systems.

 

These early computers loaded their DOS entirely into RAM. And from then on data that was sent back and forth to and from the floppy (or low capacity HDD) was strictly user generated data. No OS code, no paging, no module loading.

 

And full blown OS'es quickly consumed Megabytes and Gigabytes in no time! And guess what? The HDD picked up the slack and allowed bits and pieces of the OS to be swapped in and out of limited RAM memory. This philosophy prevails today. And it's a real pisser alright.

 

A basic low-end bargain bin 8GB or 16GB system can hold the entire OS in memory and have room left over. There is no technical need to have to keep accessing a disk and swapping parts of the OS in and out of memory. In fact you could put it entirely on FlashRom.

 

It would take a paradigm shift, one of such grand proportions that I don't believe programmers and industry are capable of executing.

 

So we go with the next best thing. That would be SSD. SSD + SATA is already faster than older computers' RAM bandwidth. And with SSD the OS.can behave as if all parts of it are instantly available. SSD has barely begun to show it's true speeds. It's only going to get faster. Eventually they'll do away with a serial interface, or any kind of interface, and wired the FlashRoms + Controller right onto the main data bus. Early prototypes of SATA-less SSDs are going 6-8 times faster than SSD RAID. Impressive!

 

Some IBM Fellow back in the 60's said that the HDD is made to store user data only. And not act as a 10,000x slower memory subsystem. And we're coming full circle soon enough. The OS will be residing on FastFlash attached right to the bus. Thus finally achieving instant-on and 0-sec suspend/resume/standby/hibernate.

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In a sort of related topic, what about these mSATA on-board 'drives' that are appearing now.

They still use the SATA interface and are no better than 6Gib/sec but wouldn't these be the next step in the evolution of the SSD?

 

Anybody had any experience with these yet?

 

And aren't SSD's always going to need some sort of interface?

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Guest Keatah

To get faster speeds, the industry will eventually come to the conclusion it's time to eliminate the SATA-bus, and much of the controller complexity. This, along with simplified file structuring, will give storage a huge leap in performance. It's just a matter of time. Putting the memory chips (whatever technology they may be) right onto the bus is the next evolutionary step.

 

Understand that a lot of conventions and methodology and separate-subsystems in a PC, today, stems from limited tech of 25 years ago.

 

We're seeing good graphics right onboard the CPU, for example. And we're beginning to get rid of mechanical HDD. Today it costs MORE to make an analog-vga LCD than it does digital. In analog you get the data from ram, zoom it through the cpu, send it back out to the bus, then to graphics card, process it, convert it to analog, send it to monitor, convert it to digital, then the monitor re-converts it back to analog to drive the pixels.

 

With a digital monitor and onboard-cpu graphics. The pipeline is greatly simplified many times over. The signal stays digital till it hits the pixels. Only then does it go analog so you can see variations.

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