Outrageously cool new hard drive

Outrageously cool new hard drive

Summary: DataSlide has come out of stealth mode with a very creative SSD replacement technology. They call it a Hard Rectangular Disk or HRD.

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TOPICS: CXO, Hardware
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DataSlide has come out of stealth mode with a very creative SSD replacement technology. They call it a Hard Rectangular Disk or HRD.

Here's DataSlide's quick overview:

DataSlide applies technology in new, patented ways to achieve unprecedented high performance 160,000 IOPS & 500MB/sec and low power <4 Watts for a magnetic storage device:

  1. A piezoelectric actuator keeps the rectangular media in precise motion
  2. A diamond solid lubricant coating protects the surfaces for years of worry free service
  3. A massively parallel 2D array of magnetic heads reads from or writes to up to 64 embedded heads at a time

It looks like this:

Hard Rectangular Drive

Hard Rectangular Drive

graphic courtesy of DataSlide

Shake, rattle & roll But that's not all. According to the redoubtable Chris Mellor at The Register device uses a

. . . 2-dimensional array of 64 read-write heads, operating in parallel, ... positioned above an piezo-electric-driven oscillating rectangular recording surface. . . .

Here's another diagram from DataSlide showing how the data and sectors are oriented: graphic courtesy of DataSlide

500 MB/s divided by 64 seems doable for each head. No word on writes.

Chris also reports that Oracle's Embedded Global Business Unit is working with DataSlide to incorporate a database to create a "smart" storage device for use in I/O intensive "multiple concurrent stream" applications.

The company says the drive is at the prototype stage and uses existing high-volume production technologies, including perpendicular recording media, semicondutor lithographic heads and LCD glass treatments.

The Storage Bits take DataSlide has taken from IBM's Millipede concept and reimagined it using common technologies. While much remains to be done to productize the prototype, the fact of such architectural creativity should spur new thinking at the hard drive companies.

Of course, just like SSDs, drives with such low latencies shouldn't be stuck at the end of a long, complex, high-latency interconnect chain. PCI-e HRD card, anyone?

Also, the relatively low capacity - 36GB - of the prototype device suggests it may slot in between larger capacity SSDs and DRAM. Until we know the economics though that is almost baseless speculation.

Let's hope they can get it to market in less than 3 years. And let the based speculation begin!

Comments welcome, of course. This post got a couple of quick updates, including adding the figures, after it was first published.

Topics: CXO, Hardware

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59 comments
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  • Yes, very cool. . .

    please let me know when I can buy one to evaluate.

    Until then, it is all just speculation ... and, who knows, it might not ever make it to market for unforeseen technical reasons and just end up as more vapor.

    Let's hope not.

    Regards,
    Jon
    JonathonDoe
    • Precisely

      Moving from lab to manufacturing is never trivial.
      frgough
      • Especially now

        With investment money so tight, making the transition can be impossible. The company may even go bankrupt before a product hits shelves.
        BillDem
  • Wonder how they manage inertia?

    I mean the plate is sliding back and forth, meaning under worse case conditions (fragmentation) you're going to have a *lot* of very fast back and forth movement in 2 directions. And this movement is intermittent and unpredictable, unlike a hard drive.

    I imagine the mass of the plate isn't large, but even so...
    wolf_z
    • Inertia

      The weight of the media slide in the 2 1/2 inch
      form factor is about 3 grammes, and the
      movement is approx. 100 microns.

      This is a very reasonable load and system for
      piezoelectric actuators.

      Tests have shown that up to 10 times the weight
      can be actuated at >1 KHz for very long periods
      without any increase in temperature or loss of
      performance
      Glissando
      • 100 microns?

        That sounds a bit unlikely. 100 microns isn't going to give you much areal density...
        wolf_z
        • areal density

          It is possible to put approx. 512 bytes (or 4096
          bits plus some EC bits) on 100 microns of media at
          perpendicular media FCPI, and with 4 Million heads
          on each surface lithographed and a number of
          surfaces per 2 and 1/2 inch format factor, we are
          talking 'spatial' density, within that HDD volume.
          Glissando
          • Yes, multiple heads - less movement....

            Duh!
            JCitizen
    • How is it "unpredictable?" (nt)

      nt
      tikigawd
      • It's moving back and forth...

        ...not just spinning in one direction. Therefore, you have the plate accelerating, slowing to a stop, then reverse acceleration, then slowing to a stop, then ... etc. And how far is it going to go in each direction before reversing?
        Beat a Dead Horse
        • drive configuration

          The media plates are held directly with a
          piezoelectric actuator and a return spring, this
          is a standard configuration as designed by such
          companies as Physik Instrumente GmbH, who have
          consulted to this design
          Glissando
          • Yes, a lot like DLP chips in TI circuits...

            for television; considered one of the superior engines for HDTV big screen tech - providing the supporting tech matches the precision.

            Like LED light engines. In fact come to think of it, this could signal a way to do it optically with spintronics. I won't explain it - please google it, if you want to know more.
            JCitizen
        • Yep. It moves. So do drive heads.

          Yes, it moves, so do read/write heads--and much further distances with far more mass,

          Predicting how far they move and where they end up and correcting for errors are all pretty basic problems which have faced every recording media with the exception of solid state.
          wizoddg
    • curious which is the "key" patent...

      ie: the big parallel array of magnetic read heads? the pezio linear motion?

      why not just apply their read head technology to a round, spinning disk? maybe leave a single moving head for writes working in parallel w/ this big "read head array" ?

      of course no, neither of these things will replace SSD...
      xyvyx
      • Geometry my good man...

        geometry. Circular platers cannot compare to flat square chips for storage space. Everyone here seems to forget that the price of this thing will drive whether it is accepted or not.

        If a 36 Gb drive plate like this can run an operating system more efficiently than a circular drive, faster, and cheaper; it is a no-brainer! You don't need much more room for operating system space. You could use other tech for the data storage.

        Or perhaps you could reverse that - the OS only needs to load once; so use a cheapie SSD(or vice-versa); then switch to this tech for data; but stack it for more drive space - or raid?!
        JCitizen
    • Movement intermittent and unpredicable?

      I thought the whole idea of a piezoelectric
      element was to keep the plate vibrating at
      more-or-less a constant rate. And I don't
      believe fragmentation of the file is as much an
      issue as with a spinning drive with one moving
      head. In this drive, the plate is in constant
      (vibrating) motion, and you have an array of
      fixed read/write heads that are each capable of
      reading a small portion of the drive as it
      vibrates back-and-forth above the head. The
      specific sectors being read at any given time
      would probably be a function of the head
      selection algorithm (think of it like selecting
      a specific channel on your TV - all channel
      signals are available at any given time,
      limited only by the number of 'tuners' that can
      be used to select the channel), and the size of
      the on-board data cache.
      JEfromCanada
      • Makes sense, except it would only have to...

        move when data is accessed; current DLP piezo tech runs an more that 14,000 actuations a second, and that is the old data. Probably more now.
        JCitizen
  • There's no such verb...

    "While much remains to be done to productize the prototype..."

    Good grief.

    "While much work remains to turn the prototype into a commerical prototype..."
    GrizzledGeezer
    • Oh yeah.

      WTF is productized? What a stupid way to verb a noun. But then that sentence is internally redundant.
      zclayton2
    • There is in Silicon Valley

      On the other hand, many in high tech don't get what it takes to turn a
      prototype or a technology into a product.

      Oh well.

      Robin
      Robin Harris