Will static RAM replace your hard disk?

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
I saw this interesting article over at MacEdition:



http://www.macedition.com/op/op_SRAM_20031002.php



In short, he is suggesting that one day we may use hard drives only for cheap back-up and otherwise replace them with faster static RAM. Still costs too much for it to work now, but we all know what happens to costs in the computer industry in the long run.



What d'ya think?

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    dankdank Posts: 31member
    i have people to think for me....
  • Reply 2 of 15
    It'll be awhile. A long while.
  • Reply 3 of 15
    splinemodelsplinemodel Posts: 7,311member
    Hmm. . .



    No.



    By that time, new storage technologies will be available that will be more effective.
  • Reply 4 of 15
    neutrino23neutrino23 Posts: 1,517member
    It will be a long time till this is widely available. The price ratio today must be something like 1,000x. One of two things must occur for SRAM to be widely used as mass storage.



    1) SRAM gets dramatically cheaper at a rate faster than HDs get cheaper.



    2) SRAMs get cheap enough that a useful amount of storage (10GB today) appears to cost a negligible amount. (< $50 for example).



    I think the second thing might occur first. At some point you will be able to get a useful amount of storage for small money. It will be much small er than the HD you could get for the same money but for some applications (notebooks for example) you would make the trade off of size, weight, speed, power requirement vs. cost and low amount of storage.



    In a few years we might make this trade off in an iPod. "I just don't need 10 Terabytes in my iPod. I'll make do with 50GB of non-volatile RAM and save some weight and get a longer battery life."



    HDs have withstood many assaults from many technologies. A lot of money is being poured into this technology to make it cheaper, faster, smaller, etc. It will take a lot to unseat this technology.



    Remember bubble memory? Optical memory cards? Flash is popular but too slow. MRAM is coming some day but not here yet.
  • Reply 5 of 15
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Carson O'Genic

    I saw this interesting articel over at MacEdition:



    http://www.macedition.com/op/op_SRAM_20031002.php



    In short, he is suggesting that one day we may use hard drives only for cheap back-up and otherwise replace them with faster static RAM. Still costs too much for it to work now, but we all know what happens to costs in the computer industry in the long run.



    What d'ya think?




    hello? Anybody remember that link that was floating around here? http://www.go-l.com Been done... if you've got 5 grand lying around, you've got yourself a static RAM hard drive...
  • Reply 6 of 15
    jcgjcg Posts: 777member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by neutrino23

    It will be a long time till this is widely available. The price ratio today must be something like 1,000x. One of two things must occur for SRAM to be widely used as mass storage.



    1) SRAM gets dramatically cheaper at a rate faster than HDs get cheaper.



    2) SRAMs get cheap enough that a useful amount of storage (10GB today) appears to cost a negligible amount. (< $50 for example).



    I think the second thing might occur first. At some point you will be able to get a useful amount of storage for small money. It will be much small er than the HD you could get for the same money but for some applications (notebooks for example) you would make the trade off of size, weight, speed, power requirement vs. cost and low amount of storage.



    In a few years we might make this trade off in an iPod. "I just don't need 10 Terabytes in my iPod. I'll make do with 50GB of non-volatile RAM and save some weight and get a longer battery life."



    HDs have withstood many assaults from many technologies. A lot of money is being poured into this technology to make it cheaper, faster, smaller, etc. It will take a lot to unseat this technology.



    Remember bubble memory? Optical memory cards? Flash is popular but too slow. MRAM is coming some day but not here yet.




    Item 2 only works if the usable amount of ram stays the same, as the price of Ram drops. Unfortunatly, file sizes keep going up as demand for quality goes up as computing power goes up. This may take longer for, say Music, due to a constraint of todays download speeds which limit usable file size for distribution. However with my cable connection, I think nothing of downloading 5-10 meg files...and not much about 50 meg files, it just dosnt take that much time. When this becomes the norm then music files will increase as they add more channels, surround, THX , more bit depth, or whatever to them.
  • Reply 7 of 15
    dhagan4755dhagan4755 Posts: 2,148member
    They will be using this concept in camcorders



    http://www.abcdv.com/article/articleview/126/1/53/



    Too expensive now, but wait awhile!
  • Reply 8 of 15
    Quote:

    Originally posted by neutrino23

    It will be a long time till this is widely available. The price ratio today must be something like 1,000x. One of two things must occur for SRAM to be widely used as mass storage.



    1) SRAM gets dramatically cheaper at a rate faster than HDs get cheaper.



    <...>





    Ya, but if people want SPEED people will pay for it. What does 250GB of DDR cost now?



    DDR - 42,500 $ US.

    (that would be 250 1GB sticks of DDR2700)

    I'd imagine that if the process got cheaper, then this would be a more viable option for consumer, but to be able to edit video on that...let me just say that it would be as eventful as the worlds longest fart !
  • Reply 9 of 15
    tjmtjm Posts: 367member
    This technology has been around before. Back around '85, HD technology was stagnant and still outrageously expensive (I bought a 20 MB external drive for my Mac+ for about $500. Man alive, combined with the whole 1 MB of RAM, I was livin' large... ).



    There were a couple companies that made SRAM-type (may have been bubble memory, don't recall) "drives" that could generate a few dozen MB of static storage for about 25% more cost - with vastly higher speeds. It was "the wave of the future" then, too - at least until HD technology suddenly took off and 500 MB drives were available within a few years. The semiconductor-based stuff just got blown away.



    I suspect we will have to hit a wall in the physics of magnetic storage before the capacity of platter-based systems flattens out again, but meanwhile the price of SRAM may drop enough to make it competitive. It's all about performance/price ratio for the two technologies. If it's cheaper to cram a gazillion SRAM chips into a box than a spinning platter (assuming equivalent capacities), then the chips will win.
  • Reply 10 of 15
    chagichagi Posts: 284member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by willywalloo

    Ya, but if people want SPEED people will pay for it. What does 250GB of DDR cost now?



    DDR - 42,500 $ US.

    (that would be 250 1GB sticks of DDR2700)

    I'd imagine that if the process got cheaper, then this would be a more viable option for consumer, but to be able to edit video on that...let me just say that it would be as eventful as the worlds longest fart !




    Interesting quote for you, Macworld, August 1995 (First of a New Breed - Power Mac 9500)



    "The 9500 provides 12 DIMM slots (there's no RAM soldered onto the motherboard) and can support more memory than any Mac yet: up to 768MB with 64MB DIMMs and up to 1.5GB with 128MB DIMMs. Buying 768MB of DIMM-based memory will set you back about $25,000."



    Happened to be flipping through one of my old Macworlds, the dollar figure reminded me of this thread. Give it a few years and it's amazing where technology goes. I think the 512MB of RAM for the computer I'm writing this on cost me approx $200 CND.
  • Reply 11 of 15
    Replacement of hard disk drives with some type of solid state semiconductor technology in the long term is likely. However, SRAM is probably not the right component. Hard disk is a non-volatile storage element, when it is powered down, it still keeps the information that was stored on it. You can build virtually non-volatile storage elements using SRAM and battery back-up, but this will have limited applications.



    Flash is a memory technology which is much better suited to replace hard disks in the near future. Flash is non-volatile and very high density. Lately, flash denstities have even started surpassing DRAM, which was the densest (and cheapest) memory technology until recently. Samsung has recently shown prototypes of 4Gb flash chips - that is 512MB of memoyr on a single chip. For many applications where hard disks are not useable due to space/weight/shock limitations, flash is already taking over the non-volatile storage function. Flash is already the leading storage medium for cellular phones, digital cameras and low-end MP3 players.



    The next big volume drive for flash is likely to be camcorders. Now that MPEG2 and MPEG4 recording HW has become cost effective, the next generation of camcorders will record on flash storage instead of tape. Even though hard disk drives may provide better storage/price ratio for this application, they are typically not robust enough and burn too much power. You can store about 2 hours of high quality video on a 4GB flash disk, which, at today's retail prices is around $800. But when the manufacturing of high density flash chips pick-up over the next year, the price of a 4GB card could easily come down to $200-$300 range, which is going to be practical. The main benefits of this type of storage will be:

    - camcorders can be much smaller

    - battery life can be extended

    - movies can be downloaded from the camcorder to a computer much faster than real time (tape) speed.
  • Reply 12 of 15
    keshkesh Posts: 621member
    I really wish Apple would do what I've been wanting since about 1998: put a PC Card slot in every Mac. With that, you can pick up a card reader for any of the Flash memory formats and just slide it right into your Mac. No USB dongle. Plus, the cards can be used for PCI expansion (sound cards, SCSI cards, etc.).



    yes, the Powerbooks (minus the 12" model) have this, but even the desktop iMacs could benefit. This would give them expansion without taking up much space or power.



    Alternately, put a CF or SD/MMC slot in every Mac. That limits the types of memory useful, but saves the adapter card step. CF would probably be best, as it allows nearly as much versatility as a PC Card slot, and is used in digital cameras the most.
  • Reply 13 of 15
    My opinion is, it will never catch on. But then again, I base it on absolutely nothing.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    jay1jay1 Posts: 22member
    El Pinguino i say the same as you ittle never catch on. as well biochem ram never did cheap to make but hard to find a comp that can handle it. It was a proto type my friend was working on years ago and they were able to make a 512 stick of biochem ram for under $50 But no one wonted to use it not sun ibm or even apple so they discontuned the funding and well went on to other things. that was about 2 years ago i beleave. think of if it did catch on i bet every one would have atleast 2 gigs of ram.
  • Reply 15 of 15
    macsharkmacshark Posts: 229member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Kesh

    I really wish Apple would do what I've been wanting since about 1998: put a PC Card slot in every Mac. With that, you can pick up a card reader for any of the Flash memory formats and just slide it right into your Mac. No USB dongle. Plus, the cards can be used for PCI expansion (sound cards, SCSI cards, etc.).



    yes, the Powerbooks (minus the 12" model) have this, but even the desktop iMacs could benefit. This would give them expansion without taking up much space or power.



    Alternately, put a CF or SD/MMC slot in every Mac. That limits the types of memory useful, but saves the adapter card step. CF would probably be best, as it allows nearly as much versatility as a PC Card slot, and is used in digital cameras the most.




    I agree. The PC card format is somewhat passe at this point, but having a CompactFlash and/or SD slot in every new Mac would have been extremely convenient and would add very minimal to the cost of these systems.
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