The Future of Storage Devices

Even as the need for more memory storage space is increasing among the users, the need to create better storage devices are also parallel. Every direction you look at, you will spot someone fiddling with their smartphones or tablets trying to download more and more music files or movies. Some are busy deleting old images to save more selfies. Some others are busy downloading a great number of e-books on their tab.

The greed for more “space” has only been growing. This demands for better devices that can hold a lot more of data as well as are portable. Smarter ways of storing are also important, apart from space distribution too. The developers are not idle, thanks to this unlimited need of space that has to be doused. Many inventions and discoveries are being made in this respect. Here is a glimpse of the future of storage devices:

  1. Helium Drives

Helium-filled drives are similar to those air-filled drives that were introduced by Western Digital and Seagate (two of the top-most drive developers globally); 10GB and 8GB respectively. These helium-filled drives consume lesser power than these two and are cooler (pun intended). Recently, Backblaze, known for their cloud services, created a storage pod of 360TB and 45 HGST 8TB drives. However, these helium-filled devices are still a dream to middle-class consumers.

  1. Holographic data storage

These are similar to CD’s in appearance and come with a storage capacity of 500GB. The data stored is written onto layers of holograms and may last up to 30 years or more.

  1. Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR)

A few years ago, Seagate introduced a new technology called the SMR, which records the hard drive. It is known to be cost effective and can be purchased at $260 for 8TB of storage space. The density of the hard drive was proved to be 25% better. This is a good choice for backups and archives.

  1. Data Skyscraper in Iceland 

This is proposed idea that is yet to be applied, won the third-place in the eVolo Skyscraper competition in 2016. The idea is that the building would resemble a giant motherboard and cylindrical in shape. A hollow space in the center is for circulation of air to keep the servers cool. In addition, what about the power resource to run it? Iceland has a 100% of clean renewable energy. However, the hindrance is that this idea is still being discussed and not yet in the realm of reality.

  1. Quantum Storage

Now how did Quantum Physics come into the picture of storage devices, you wonder. This idea has been encouraging many developers to find a way to store data on the spin of an electron of an atom. This method is limited to storing a very small amount of data for a very short while. This would make way for instant data synchronizing between two points anywhere.

  1. Abandoned Limestone Mines 

Where would you keep servers that store data? Even if you have enough servers, where would you place them? For a server to be set up, it requires an appropriate level of cool temperature and humidity, as a large amount of energy is being used by servers. This nature of the environment is rarely found above ground. However, a mine, that is an underground space, would hold the right type of atmosphere for this purpose. Callison, an architectural firm from the North-East of the United States, has already jumped onto this idea and has built their data center in an old, unused mine site.

  1. 5D Glass Data Disk

Nowadays, these “multi”-dimensional concept is being upheld with much hype. The University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre has created a prototype of a glass disk that can store data in five dimensions in nanostructures. Its storage capacity is 360TB and can survive conditions of extreme heat levels, up to 374°F. They also claim that this storage device can sustain the stored data up to 13.8 billion years (or the existence of the universe). The data is stored in the glass disk’s inner parts, so it can be spared from physical damage.

  1. Hitachi’s Quartz Glass Disk 

In 2012, Hitachi proved to be a direct competitor of the University of Southampton by creating a similar 5D glass disk of the size of one-square-inch quartz glass, which can store data up to 40MB. It is two millimeters thick and can hold data as much as any normal CD can. It can sustain high temperatures of heat up to 1,832°F, chemicals, and water. An optical microscope is used to detect data stored in it and is transparent on the outside like any other piece of glass.

  1. Underwater Data Centres 

An experiment, called Project Natrick in the Pacific Ocean close to the coast of Washington, was conducted. Data servers were enclosed in a huge watertight capsule and placed inside the ocean for two months. The steel capsule weighed 38,000 pounds. When the container was opened, the experiment was proved successful, as the data center containing computing power of 300 desktop computers were dry and functioned well.

  1. DNA

The best is always the last. Here is a very creepy data storage device – it lies right inside you! Now your DNA can store digital data in its molecules just like how it stores your biological “data”. This was executed by the Harvard University in 2012, where they were able to encode DNA with digital data. They stored the following – 53,400-word book in HTML, 11 JPEG images, and 1 JavaScript program. The DNA hard drive’s storage density is 2.2PB/g that is equal to a teaspoon full of data. You will be surprised to read that this capacity can contain all of the world’s data – every song, book and video ever created. In addition, it can survive up to 400,000 years.

Research is still underway to create more and more advanced devices to store data in ways one cannot even believe. The entire list here is just a gist of 10 storage devices that can hit the market in the near future.

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