The Gigabyte has become the new Megabyte

Just when you think you’ve finally gotten your head around the fact that you can fit 16GB of data on a memory card no bigger than your fingernail (MicroSD), along comes the next-generation of memory cards, SDXC, which proclaim a whopping 2TB on the same form factor!

The website referenced above suggests that a 2 TB SDXC memory card could store around 480 hours of HD recordings, or 136,000 photos. However, looking backwards to previous technologies and storage terms, 2 Terabytes is the equivalent of two thousand Gigabytes, or 2 million Megabytes, and would be roughly equivalent to 1,388,888 floppy discs (of the 3.5″ high density variety from the nineties which had a capacity of 1.44MB).

Oh the times they are a’ changing…

The World’s Biggest Storage Networks

Byte and Switch are compiling a list of the worlds biggest Storage Area Networks (SAN) and have release some of their initial findings. The purpose of the study to assess some of the lessons learned by corporations when scaling to such gargantuan levels of storage.

The results so far are utterly astonishing and the article is well worth reading. Impressive enough is the fact that the top five each have active storage capacities in the order of Petabytes (PB) but also that the San Diego Supercomputer Centre has over 18PB of tape storage (yes, that’s right, tape) and the Department of Defense has over 20,000 Fibre Channel switch ports.

Here is a summary of the top 5 (so far) showing the key suppliers in each case.

Corporation Suppliers Disk Tape
JP Morgan Chase IBM, Sun 14PB
U.S. Department of Defense Brocade, Others
San Diego Supercomputer Centre Sun 1PB 18PB
Livermore Labs SGI 2PB

Particularly interesting (but not entirely surprising) is the high use of Sun and/or SGI equipment by four of the above.

Source: SlashDot

MicroSD Price Comparison

I recently purchased a 2GB MicroSD memory card for my mobile phone and discovered a surprising variation in the prices, especially when it came to the shipping charges from the Irish-based sites. It beats me why they have to charge so much for a device that is about the same size as your smallest finger nail.

In any case the cheapest offering was from 7 Day Shop and the card duly arrived within the time promised with no hidden charges appearing on my credit card statement.

Supplier Make Unit Price Shipping Total
7 Day Shop (UK)* SANdisk €26.45 €5.80 €32.25
Mobile Fun (UK)* SANdisk €32.27 €3.68 €35.95
SVP UK* Integral €34.87 €7.68 €42.55
Cruicial Crucial €36.41 €7.00 €43.41
Expansys (Ireland) SANdisk €32.95 €13.95 €46.90
Komplett (Ireland) Corsair

* Some sites only quoted prices in GBP and I have converted these based on a rate of €0.68c.

All prices quoted are inclusive of relevant VAT.

Disk Drive Comfort Factor

Having spent several years developing software for large disk subsystems, I frequently found myself surrounded by racks and rack of noisy disk drives (or “disc” for the purists among you) often performing random seek tests in less than forgiving laboratory environments. Not for anyone who suffers from migraines I can tell you.

However, what I never really realised until recently was that there is somewhat of a subconscious comfort factor associated with the noise generated by a hard disk. As long there was a nice actuating noise coming from the disk (and not a high-pitched scratching noise), it at least meant that the system was still doing something and not hung.

I say this because I am currently in the process of carrying out some lengthy configuration of some new Solaris servers from a remote location (another room in the same building) which involves lots of slowly moving progress bars. I keep looking around for the system chassis to listen for disk activity (or look at a disk activity LED), all to comfort myself with the fact that the update is still progressing … but alas, nothing.

It’s a very strange feeling.