bf memory summit kevin conley 2-21-12
SANTA CLARA, Calif.-- We're a gluttonous lot, it seems. We will
inhale 2.7 zettabytes
of data this
year. That's an amount of information that's hard to comprehend.
It's equal to 1 sextillion bytes. But I can't comprehend that. I can
only vaguely appreciate that a billion seconds is 31 years. And a
zettabyte equals 1 billion terabytes, so if we could count a
terabyte a second, it would take a long time to get there.
What's a little easier to comprehend is this: That Wikipedia entry
referenced above notes that in 2009 the web was roughly 500
exabytes, or half a zettabyte. In 2011, Seagate reporting selling a
little more than 330 exabytes worth of drives. So bottom line: Consumption
, pure and simple, whether it's music on your
16GB iphone or in the cloud.
That was the message this week from Sandisk's Kevin
, who blew a lot of smart minds here with the
zettabyte reference during his kenote at the Flash Memory Summit
He tried his own context-setting by explaining that 2.7 zettabytes
is like 9 million galaxies of stars.
(Sorry, I have a hard enough picking out Taurus the bull some
evenings). IDC forecasts total data storage to increase to
more than 8 zettabytes by 2015.
In any case--and in any context--the ramifications are enormous for
the solid-state storage industry--all storage media for that matter.
I asked him afterward whether he thinks, despite the strides that
flash memory makers have made over the past quarter-century, that
flash memory will ever pass rotating media on a lower
"There may never be a crossover," acknowledged Conley, who serves as
vice president and general manager for Sandisk's
solutions business unit. "But we've made great gains: Think
about the 20MB drive from 20 years ago that cost $1,000. It now
costs the equivalent of 2 cents today."
But if the price-per-megabit may never switch over, the value
proposition for flash and solid-state drives has changed radically
in recent years, he insisted. Rotating media has physical
constraints, such as the need for a disk of a given size--that
create a floor of about $35 to $45 per device, regardless of
capacity. The flash floor is about half that, Conley said.
In addition, SSDs have been introduced into the data center to
handle "hot storage" duties while HDDs have been shifted into backup
roles. That and other architecture evolutions have dramatically
reduced the cost of servicing a center, Conley said. A widely cited
2008 study using an HP DL580 G5 system (2.67 GHz, 16MB L2) pegged
data center costs at $1.10 per transaction per minute (TPM)
Three years later, a followup analysis using an HP DL380 G7 (3.46
GHz, 12MB cache) leveraging SanDisk SSDs pegged the cost at 65
. (That study is referenced in this SanDisk
presentation (slide 14)
Into the cloud
At the client/PC level, the trend is clear. Various sub-notebooks
and tablets leverage robust amounts of solid-state storage for quick
boot times, and any big storage needs are offloaded easily.
"You no longer need terabytes of rotating storage. They're going to
be stored in the cloud," Conley said. "120GB are about all you
need to service the average PC today."
(It's no coincidence that SanDisk's sales sweet spot among PC OEMs
runs from 128 to 256GB, but, hey, point taken).
"Flash memory is taking the PC and fulfilling its promise of being a
highly interactive and responsive computing device," Conley said.
Those of us who watch the rainbow wheel whirl around and around on
our old machines can only sigh.
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