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The past, present and future of top data center components

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From punchcard beginnings, data centers reach for petabyte storage

Source:  Daniel Gies/Flickr

The first state-of-the-art aftermarket disk drives wouldn't even store a handful of high-resolution images from a digital camera today. In the future, more sophisticated technologies will bring petabyte storage to the average data center, and disk drives may become obsolete.

Early rotating magnetic drum or disk data storage systems -- the IBM 350 and 353, for example -- worked on IBM mainframes dating back to the 1950s. Disk proved fast and reliable as a storage media, becoming commercially available in servers and endpoint devices by the mid-1980s.

Today's disk storage systems hit multi-terabyte (TB) capacities with petabytes (PB) just over the horizon. Modern 2U and larger servers easily house four to eight disks, interfacing serially rather than in parallel. Even modest storage arrays like the HP Modular Smart Array 2040 hold 24 disks; full-sized storage systems like an EMC Isilon provide anywhere from 18 TB to 20 PB of storage across thousands of individual disks.

The role of magnetic disk storage will greatly change in tomorrow's enterprises, thanks to solid-state storage. Solid state disk (SSD) devices like Intel's DC S3500 series and I/O accelerator devices (sometimes called solid-state accelerators) like Fusion-io's ioDrive2 will increasingly take on tier-1 storage tasks for the most demanding enterprise workloads. Future SSDs will offer better reliability and wear leveling algorithms to maximize the device's working life.

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