mache cReeGeR: Welcome to you all.
Today we’re talking about storage issues that are specific to what people
are coming into contact with now and
what they can expect in the near term.
Why don’t we start with energy consumption and see where that takes us?
eRic BReWeR: Recently I decided to
rebuild my Microsoft Windows XP PC
from scratch and for the first time tried
to use a 32GB flash card instead of a
hard drive. I’m already using network-attached storage for everything important and information on local disk is
easily re-created from the distribution
CD. Flash consumes less energy and is
Although this seemed like a good
idea, it didn’t work out that well because XP apparently does a great deal
of writing to its C drive during boot.
Writing to flash is not a good idea, as
the device is limited in the number and
bandwidth of writes. Even though the
read time for flash is great, I found the
boot time on the Windows machine to
be remarkably poor. It was slower than
the drive I was replacing and I’m go-
Developed in the 1950s, magnetic drums were the first mechanical “direct access” storage
devices. made of a nickel-cobalt substrate coated with powdered iron, data was recorded by
magnetizing small surface regions organized into long tracks of bits.
ing to have to go back to a disk in my
system. But I still like the idea and feel
that the thing that I need to boot my
PC should be a low-power flash device
with around 32GB of storage.
eRiK RieDeL: This highlights one of
the problems with the adoption of new
technologies. Until the software is ap-
propriately modified to match the new
hardware, you don’t get the full benefit.
Much of the software we run today is
old. It was designed for certain para-
digms, certain sets of hardware, and as
we move to new hardware the old soft-
ware doesn’t match up.
mache cReeGeR: I’ve had a similar experience. In my house, my family has
gotten addicted to MythTV—a free,
open source, client-server, DVR (
Digital Video Recorder) that runs on Linux
( http://www.mythtv.org/). Mindful of
energy consumption, I wanted to get
rid of as many disk drives as possible.
I first tried to go diskless and do a network boot of my clients off of the server.
I found it awfully difficult to get a net-work-booted Linux client to be configured the way I wanted. Things like NFS
did not come easily and you had to do a
custom kernel if you wanted to include
stuff outside a small standard set.
Since I wanted small footprint client
machines, and was concerned about
heat and noise, I took a look at flash,
but quickly noted that it was write-limited. Because I did not have a good
handle on my outbound writes, flash
didn’t seem to be a particularly good
candidate for my needs.
I settled on laptop drives, which
seemed to be the best compromise.
Laptop drives have lots of storage, are
relatively cheap, can be shaken, don’t
generate a lot of heat, and do not require a lot of power to operate. For
small audiovisual client computers,
laptop drives seem to be the state-of-the-art right solution for me right now.
eRiK RieDeL: Seagate has been selling
drives specifically optimized for DVRs.
The problem is we don’t sell them to
the retail channel, but to integrators
like TIVO and Comcast. Initially, the
optimization was for sound. We slowed
down the disk seek times and did other
things with the materials to eliminate
the clicky-clacky sound.
Recently, power is more of a concern. You have to balance power with
storage capacity. When you go to a
PHO TOGRAPH BY MARK RICHARDS, FROM THE BOOK CORE MEMORy, CHRONICLE BOOKS