Next-generation USB stick offers a whopping 2TB of storage!
There’s a famous fake quote that floats around the Internet that’s been attributed to Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft. There are different versions, but it goes something like “640K is more memory than anyone will ever need.” This quote refers to RAM or random-access memory, the place where your computer (or smartphone) stores information while it’s doing calculations or other temporary work.
For the record, Bill Gates himself confirmed that he NEVER said this when asked about this quote: “I’ve said some stupid things and some wrong things, but not that. No one involved in computers would ever say that a certain amount of memory is enough for all time.”
640KB is the equivalent of 10 (modern) full single-page Microsoft Word documents (approximately 40 KB) or a single 1.7 megapixel image (100% JPG, approximately 620 KB). It’s paltry, in comparison to today’s standards and even programmable/scientific calculators come with more memory than the famous quote. Most consumer desktops/laptops will typically come with 2GB, 4GB or even 8GB of RAM. (1,024 KB = 1 MB. 1,024 MB = 1 GB)
These days, memory is not at such a premium and storage space (hard drive) and RAM are typically very inexpensive. An internal 2TB hard drive costs less than $80 and external 2TB hard drives are typically under $120. Yet despite the ever-increasing availability of storage space, data continues to expand to fill it, fulfilling a corollary of Parkinson’s Law: “Data expands to fill the space available for storage.”
Previously, I wrote about how the Large Hadron Collider at CERN will produce 15 petabytes of data per year but apparently, this pales in comparison to an undisclosed client of IBM. IBM is currently creating a storage array that will consist of 200,000 hard drives, arranged in a file system that allows for parallel, redundant access of data. The system is supposed to be able to keep data safe for 1,000,000 years without any impact on access (read/write) performance. The storage capacity of this immense, water-cooled setup: 120 petabytes. That’s 125,829,120 GB or 122,880 TB of storage!
To put that in perspective, Google processes approximately 24 petabytes of data per day. This array by IBM would be able to store 5 days’ worth of data for Google (not accounting for the ever increasing amount of traffic that Google receives/processes).
Back to earth, one of the most ubiquitous components in any computer user’s arsenal is the USB flash drive. It goes by many names such as a thumb drive, memory stick, or USB stick but they are all the same thing: a solid-state (no moving/mechanical parts), non-volatile (doesn’t lose its data when power is removed and doesn’t require electricity/batteries to maintain its data) storage device.
They are available in a wide smorgasbord of shapes, colours, designs, capacities and features as shown by Rhonda’s post on cool USB drives. There are USB drives with password protection/built-in encryption, biometric fingerprint scanners, external OLED capacity/usage indicators, and even waterproof USB keys.
They are also very, very cheap, with 4GB keys going for less than $10, making them an essential purchase for every student heading (back) to school. It makes transferring documents, lectures, and assignments a breeze – just make sure you also backup your data in multiple places too since they are also easy to lose. Back when I was in engineering, every single classmate and professor had one — and this was over 5 years ago.
With the advent of notebooks/netbooks/ultrabooks/ultraportables lacking optical drives, the only (non-network) way to transfer data in/out of these computers is through USB sticks, making them an essential part of any computer user’s array of devices.
Personally, I use a 32GB OCZ Rally2 USB key to cart around my media, documents, and any other files as well as a 2GB encrypted drive for sensitive information. You may ask why I need 32GB but I’m actually looking at upgrading to a larger USB key due to the size requirements of high-definition video (1,200 MB/45 minutes), photographs (15-40 MB per RAW photograph), and other media.
Fortunately, Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute apparently has me covered. They just demonstrated a 16GB USB 3.0 drive has the technology/infrastructure to be scaled up to a whopping 2TB and while they haven’t announced availability or pricing, with the ever-decreasing price of memory, it shouldn’t be (too) outrageous once it gets released.
The drive utilizes the next-generation of USB (v3.0) to facilitate faster access (and is also backwards compatible with USB 2.0). While my 32GB USB stick tops out at approximately 25MB/second when transferring data, current USB 3.0 sticks have speeds of 150-200MB/second – more than six times faster. These speeds will be required to ensure users aren’t sitting for an hour waiting for their 10GB files to copy.
Check out the video below for a demonstration of the drive.
[Source: Tom's Hardware]