Future of Data Storage: 6 Futuristic Data Storage Technologies

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Data growth is the key catalyst for new solutions in the field of technology. Data types and sources are now very different. Video data, for example, is one of the key sources of customer tracking and monitoring today. Similarly, in the case of businesses, many data produced by the web are generated, such as client behaviour, A/B-design testing, ad-efficiency, heat maps or semantic analyses. Data storage systems have evolved depending on the data and its storage requirements.

Likewise, streaming data is an important factor for strong trend industries such as fashion, food, social media and entertainment. This is important to forecast their company’s business trends. In addition, many companies now focus more on the precision and granularity of big data: volume and velocity.

For example, food dealers are now monitoring their supply chains from shipping to track who ordered the package, at the individual level. Moreover, with annual storage costs declining from 25% to 40%, it is becoming ever more cost-effective, and the demand for storage is growing.

Interestingly, the volume of data that need to be stored over the next decade will rise to the exabyte range comprising of streaming data, video, machine learningartificial intelligenceIoT, and much more. Moreover, as there is an increase of AI, that needs exponential amounts of training data and so the storage for the same. Clearly, companies that leverage better opportunities in analytics and big data will lead the market.

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What is the Future of Storage Technology?

The Hard Disk Drive is already one of the longest standing technologies in recent computing history, and according to the CFO of Seagate, they’re still some 15-20 years from being uprooted.

According to a technology roadmap put up by the Advanced Storage Technology Consortium, the capacity of HDDs will rise to 100TB by 2025, enabled by new writing technologies such as Shingled Magnetic RecordingPerpendicular Magnetic Recording, Enhanced Caching, and even installing helium inside the casing.

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What is the latest technology of data storage?

Another new technology is NVMe over Fabrics. This protocol allows transferring NVMe storage commands between servers over Infiniband and Ethernet using the RDMA technology. The RDMA protocol enables different applications to transfer memory information directly, bypassing the OS and CPU, having very low latency and saving computing resources. 

With NVMeOF, this can be done over Ethernet cables by connecting nodes in high-performance computing or distributed storage scenarios. NVMe protocol can be transported over various media, like FC, Infiniband, Ethernet, or NextGen Fabrics.

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How Data Storage Technologies Have Evolved Over Time?

Two decades ago, data storage technologies were completely dependent on the storage silos. Data strategists combined applications to the server OS and storage arrays. Concurrently, upgrades to those storage solutions meant costly new hardware with risky migrations that needs handling of usage spikes, which meant a chronically over configured infrastructure.

Data storage technologies solutions vary with OS virtualization, cloud integration, containers, and the scale-out architectures that support them. Nevertheless, this may make us long for the days when we could walk into a datacentre to touch our storage. Now, cloud gateways are integrated into enterprise storage arrays. Thereby, the developers can spin up hundreds of terabytes for software testing. Hence, it is very harder to know who is using storage or why. Moreover, it is even harder to know if it is cost-effective with that particular data storage technology.

So what’s the answer? Perhaps it will eventually appear as a cross-vendor storage monitoring and analysis tool. You can use machine learning to understand and inform administrators to maximise the overall efficiency and cost storage infrastructure. These applications will know about the costs, performance, availability or reliability and weigh of various storage options. There is a long list, but what about modern technology for futuristic data storage on the list? Let’s get a preview of the best six.

1. Helium Drives

Helium-filled hard drives, no doubt, are pushing the capacity boundaries of hard drives, as these are typically filled with helium and not air. Many companies are engaged in producing such data storage technology like Western Digital (WD) announced the first 10TB hard drive. Seagate, on the other hand also announced an 8TB air-filled hard drive. As these drivers use helium instead of air, it takes less power to spin the disks due to less air resistance. Nonetheless, the technology is still expensive. Still, these high-performance drives will likely only get cheaper and even more expansive, perhaps affordable enough even for consumer use.

Also, read about the WD Red 4TB NAS Hard Drive


2. Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR)

Among the data storage technologies, SMR or Shingled Magnetic Recording is a new hard drive recording technology. SMR technology allows for higher capacity on hard drives than traditional storage methods. How does this happen? As per the explanation provided by Seagate – In SMR technology, the tracks are squeezed to make it closer together. As a result, it achieves higher areal densities, and tracks overlap like shingles on a roof. This allows more data to be written in the same space. 

Now, when new data is written, it trims the drive tracks, or in other words, shingled. As the reader element on the drive head is smaller than the writer, data is easily read off the trimmed track and without compromising data integrity or reliability. 

Furthermore, you can use traditional reader and writer elements for SMR. SMR is a cost-effective solution as it does not require new production capital to be and will enable SMR-enabled HDDs. SMR hard drive came into the market in 2014 by Seagate that considerably improved hard drive density by 25%.

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3. DNA Storage

Is it hard to believe that biological molecules can be a part of data storage technologies? Yes, though it sounds the strangest, DNA is the new storage technology of the future. The molecules that store biological information could also be used to store other kinds of digital data. Harvard researchers in 2012 were able to encode DNA with digital information, including a 53,400-word book in HTML, eleven JPEG images, and one JavaScript program.

With DNA, you can store 2.2 petabytes per gram, which is incredible in terms of storage density. This means a DNA hard drive about the size of a teaspoon could fit all of the world’s data on it! Not only space savings, but also DNA is ideal for long-term storage.

However, the read/write time for DNA is high, and also the technology is still too expensive for use. In one recent study, the cost to encode 83 kilobytes was £1000 (about $1,500 U.S. dollars). It sounds like a sci-fi story, but scientists encode information into artificial DNA and add it to bacteria. Not to mention, DNA could be the ultimate eternal drive one day.


4. Large memory servers – NVRAM

Intel is the first one who has introduced non-volatile, random access memories (NVRAM). The magic of these memories is they retain data without batteries through power cycles. As NVRAM sits on the server’s memory bus, it is significantly faster than SSDs or disks. However, NVRAM can be accessed as either 4K storage blocks or memory bytes, which is unlikely in SSDs. As a result, you get maximum compatibility and performance.

NVRAM is commonly used in large memory servers. For example, the latest Xeon SP (Skylake) servers can support up to 1.5TB of memory per processor. Instead, Intel’s Optane NVRAM DIMMs are priced as low as $625 per 128GB and consume much less power. Also, an Optane DIMMs, large databases can be run in memory, dramatically improving performance.


5. Rack scale design

Another mind-blowing data storage technology concept that Intel is promoting for years is Rack scale design (RSD), which has already been launched in the market with more advances coming in the way. If you are looking for answers to the differing rates of technology advances in storage, CPU, GPUs, and networks, then RSD is the answer for you.

Furthermore, the RSD concept is pretty simple. It can be viewed as an individual rack of CPU, storage, memory, and GPUs connected with a high-bandwidth, low-latency interconnect. This can be configured with software, and virtual servers with whatever combination of computes, memory, and storage a particular application requires. 

Hence, we can consider RSD as a highly configurable private cloud. HP’s Synergy system is one implementation of the RSD concept. Similarly, Liqid Inc. offers a software version that supports multiple fabrics and commodity hardware.


6. 5D Optical storage

So far, we have seen many varieties of data storage technologies. It could be super cold storage, biomolecular, or even revolutionizing data storage by using lasers to carve terabytes of data into tiny glass discs! Yes, I am talking about optical storage. Researchers at the U.K.’s University of Southampton are involved in developing this type of digital data storage. Interestingly, this type of data storage can potentially survive for billions of years. At the same time, they have created a recording and retrieval process based on femtosecond laser writing. 

Their goal is to replace magnetic tape and why they choose for this is the extreme durability of quartz glass, which can survive disasters like solar flares or fires and ideal for data centers. Furthermore, this storage solution can encode five-dimensional information in multiple layers that include the usual three dimensions. It gets five degrees of freedom for data storage by encoding in the size of imprinted structures and orientation.

As a result, you can store hundreds of terabytes per disc in 5D Optical storage with thermal stability up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The research work has gained Microsoft’s attention as it can exploit 5D optical storage in the glass.


Final thoughts:

Clearly, this is a data-centric computing era with almost 4.5 billion computers in use today, with most of them being mobiles. Along with that, there is the growth of IoT still in the future. And it is evident that data will be the top priority for technology and governance for both economic and legal reasons.

Keeping yourself updated with the latest data storage technologies is of utmost importance as the business data is your biggest competitive weapon. With the contribution of new analytical tools, accurately stored data can offer value. Fortunately, data storage is more cost-effective than ever, and this trend will continue in the coming future.

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