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The Future of Electronic Memory Storage

Most people take electronic memory storage for granted because it has become a part of our lives. Very few people take the time to think about where their data is stored and what the future of electronic memory storage will be. However, this is something that more and more companies are looking into as the future of electronic memory storage will play a role in how they do business. There are a number of technologies that are being looked into which could secure the future of electronic memory storage.

The Use Of Helium Drives

The standard in electronic memory is the hard drive, but this device does have limitations. To try and push the boundaries of what a hard drive is capable of, people have been turning to helium-filled drives. The traditional hard drive is generally filled with air, but as the name suggests, these drives are filled with the gas helium.

The use of helium instead of air will make it easier to store larger amounts of data on a hard drive. This is due to the fact that less energy is required to spin the disk of the hard drive when it is surrounded by helium. This comes from the lower resistance the disk faces when confronted with helium when compared to air. These disks also run cooler which means that they can pack in more disks into the drive.

Helium drives also have a lower cost per gigabyte when compared to their air-filled counterparts. However, for the average consumer, these drives are still too expensive for home use. Large businesses would be able to offset the higher costs of helium drives which could make them a better solution for business needs,

Shingled Magnetic Recording Or SMR

SMR or shingled magnetic recording is another type of hard drive recording technology. As with the helium-filled hard drive, SMR offers a higher capacity of electronic memory storage than the traditional hard drive. The company Seagate is one of the leaders in pushing this technology and has already released the first SMR hard drive in 2014.

According to Seagate, the SMR drive is able to achieve higher areal density by pushing the tacks closer together. This can result in the tracks overlapping each other which allows for more data to be written onto the same space as a traditional hard drive. As the new data is stored on the drive, the tracks will be trimmed or shingled.

The data can be easily retrieved by the reader element because this is generally smaller than the writer. SMR data storage does not compromise the reliability or the integrity of the data. An SMR hard drive can improve the density of these devices by 25%.

The primary issue with this technology at this point is that it only has a 5,900 rpm spindle speed. This does not make it a viable solution for daily data storage and is best used for archiving and backups. However, in the future, this technology could be improved and made to be one of the standards of electronic memory storage.

Using DNA

One of the strangest solutions for future electronic memory storage is the use of DNA. Researchers at Harvard were able to encode DNA with digital information in 2012. This data included a book in HTML format, a JavaScript program and 11 JPEG images. It has been discovered that DNA actually offers an incredible storage density of 2.2 petabytes per gram.

This means that if DNA were used as a hard drive, one the size of a teaspoon would be able to fit the entire world’s data onto it. This would include every song that has ever been composed, every book that has ever been written and every video that has ever been shared. Other than the great storage potential of DNA, it also offers a long-term solution.

Modern hard drives generally last up to 4 years because optical disks are susceptible to a number of problems. However, the lead Harvard researcher has stated that if you drop DNA in your back garden or the desert, it will still be there in 400,000 years.

The primary issue with this future storage solution is the time it takes to write and read data on DNA. Additionally, the technology required to do this is also very expensive and would not be usable for any practical purposes. A recent study showed that the costs of encoding 83 kilobytes of data onto DNA would be approximately $1500.

The Use Of 5D Storage

5D storage is not actually new and was first looked at in 2013. Scientists from the University of Southampton created the 5D glass as a way of increasing the amount of data which can be stored in a single structure. The researchers used nanostructure glass and an ultrafast laser to write the data. The laser was able to write 5-dimensional data which is believed to last forever.

The technology was first demonstrated in 2013 when 300 kilobytes of data was recorded in 5D in text format. The primary issue with this solution is that, like DNA encoding, the technology is too expensive to be practical. Additionally, there are limitations to the amount of data which can be held on the nanostructure glass used for 5D storage.

The Underwater Data Center

Project Natick is a research initiative by Microsoft to look for a future electronic memory storage solution. This project is researching the use of underwater data centers which can be used as an environmentally friendly and cost-effective storage solution. Microsoft believes that these data centers are the future of storage because they offer logistical advantages and will be kept cool by the sea water.

There are many different solutions being developed to enhance the future of electronic memory storage. Some of these technologies are more viable for general use than others. These solutions will include helium hard drives and SMR hard drives. Encoding DNA and the use of 5D storage may never reach consumers because of the expensive technology required.

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