More Predictions for the Future
(Building Your Own Home Library)
The World Library Blog Newsletter
Volume 1, Number 22
Monday, August 08, 2011
by Michael S. Hart
Founder, Project Gutenberg
Inventor of eBooks
More Predictions for the Future
(Part of our continuing series on building your own library on inexpensive high capacity drives.)
I am always amazed when the professional pundits get on the air and say they can't, won't, or are just plain scared to do their predictions for the computer world more than a couple years for the future, claiming that things will just change too much.
So, I have dusted off my trusty crystal ball, and here goes!!!
Hard drives will get so much smaller and power efficient that a single pocket size drive will contain TWO hard drives which are going to consume the same amount of power as the old ONE drive, AND will yield increased performance.
As for efficiency, having two independent sets of heads will be so much more efficient in terms of head movement, just like for RAID systems, and, in fact, if/when these two drive systems are successful, I predict someone will come out with four just like the four processor systems that are out now.
The History of Hard Drive Power
When I started buying hard drives they were 5 1/4" in diameter, with the really powerful mainframe drives being 8" and 10".
It took VERY larges motors the size of a large fist to make the drives spin up and to keep them going, and the heads were large enough that you could actually feel and hear them moving.
If you ever took algebra or physics you probably remember rules something like "the inverse square law," which says you will be getting FOUR times the efficiency ever time you cut the radius, diameter, distance or whatever in HALF.
So, when we went from ~10" drives to 5" drives it only took one quarter as much power to spin them, and probably even less if a platter's thickness was also cut down, perhaps also in half.
If you ever get a chance to look inside any of these old drives you will immediately see what I am talking about. The platters were huge and thick, something like a Frisbee with no edge, and perfectly flat, but much heavier.
So, going from a 10" to 1" takes one hundredth as much power to spin the same mass, and, of course, the new drives have no mass to speak of, as the platters are so much thinner, as well, that makes the power requirements nearly nothing, which is why these new pocket drives I like so much run with just one single cable that provides both the power and sends data back and forth.
Hard drive sizes are down to 1" and less today, which means two of these could actually fit into a single pocket size enclosure and power requirements should be low enough to run on standards for USB power supplies [1 amp.].
Hard drive heads are now much smaller than a human hair meaning they they also take less power to move, and have less stress to manage due to their small mass.
So far I've only been mentioning the pocket sized drives I love so much, and I don't want to leave out desktop drives, but I am going to mention that the smaller the drive and the fewer cable attachments, then the more likely people are to get them out to make backups, which I consider to be THE MOST VALUABLE LESSON I can offer to anyone when I talk about computers.
If all you ever learn from me was to make backups. . .GREAT!
In some ways desktop drives do encourage making backups because they also encourage RAID arrangements which are internal backup processes that keep extra copies of your data. However, I must warn you that too many times when one drive in a RAID goes out, the rest of the data seems to go with it from the other drives.
I'm not sure why, but it happens all too often, so I believe in keeping backups in separate drives, even flash drives, for your most important files.
Right now you can buy 3T standard sized desktop drives at about
$125 if you look around for a while, which is a real bargain.
4T drives that are advertised are not really the same thing for the moment, still the "toaster" style desktop style, containing two physical drives in one larger format container.
Very serious users will consider small RAID towers holding four or eight drives and making them "hot swap" systems so you don't have to shut down your system to replace a drive. Again I warn you that these don't always preserve your data when drives die.
Back To The Future Of Pocket Drives
Even though the last week of last year was the first time I got any 1T pocket drives, I predict we will have 2T versions in the not too distant future. [I have reports of 2T versions already but they all include references to various problems, so I'm not ready to go out and get one quite yet presuming they are really available on the open market already.
In the longer ranges that no one will even talk about, not that any of the pundits will tell you the 2T pocket drives were even possible yet, I continue my predictions of affordable petabytes for the common user in the 2020's which will be enough space to hold every word of every book in the public domain, in multiple languages. . .which brings us to our next Newsletter.
Back To School Sales
I should mention that the back to school sales going on at this time of year are often a great time to go shopping for your new hard drives, flash drives, etc. Many of the stores I tried out this week had the best prices I ever saw. Of course, the other best time of year is the Thanksgiving Friday through Monday.
This week I saw my favorite 1T pocket USB 3.0 drive at $79 down from the $99 I paid on December 24, and I also saw 4G USB flash drives for $6, also the best price I had seen. Of course there are always supposed to be better prices online if you do enough research and homework and use a reliable vendor or use a credit card that guarantees you get what you paid for. Watch out, the credit card companies are changing lots of rules right now so I suggest you check with them if this is still on your card.