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HDD to Morph Into 'HRD' to Beat SSD

Gordon Kelly


HDD to Morph Into 'HRD' to Beat SSD

SSDs may only be getting faster and more exciting with the recent announcement of the Samsung mini card but HDDs look set to do some shape changing of their own to get back in the game...

The 'Hard Rectangular Drive' (HRD) could well be the solution to fight back against the huge read/write and power advantages of the SSD. Created by Cambridge company DataSlide, it makes one fundamental change to existing hard drives: it doesn't spin.

In DataSlides own words: its patented "piezoelectric actuator system oscillates rectangular media along one axis between a fixed array of millions of read/write heads on a single substrate of low expansion glass. In the first generation, any 64 of these heads may be active in reads and writes at the same time."

The result is a drive capable of achieving 160,000 IOPS and 500MB per second transfer rates while also consuming just 4W, that's roughly one third the power of a 15,000RPM HDD and half that of a typical SSD.

The usual caveat in all this is that the HRD is fairly early into its development and DataSlide is still speaking with potential investors. It needs to be fast however as the exponential expansion of SSDs, combined with their continual performance gains and ever dropping prices could otherwise have the HRD beaten before it gets out the door...




June 25, 2009, 6:56 am

It's certainly interesting technology, even if it does have a stupid name. Fairly high power consumption too, the latest generation of SSDs are 1-2W.

They're claiming 160,000 IOPS for both read and write which is interesting, unfortunately they don't specify whether it's random or sequential. If it's both then that'll blow SSD's puny 500 I/Os for random writes right out of the water.

But still, Glass? Isn't that going to be fragile or heavy? I think notebooks may be sticking to SSDs even if this proves to be a better technology for desktops.


June 25, 2009, 2:08 pm

too many fussy new names. can't catch up with all those new techno junky. Give me a super fast computer I'll be happy.


June 25, 2009, 2:22 pm

Sorry, what's fussy about HRD? Along with HDD and SSD that makes for three terms that cover pretty much the entire mass storage market. Hardly difficult.

As for the glass comment, assuming the drive is cushioned there shouldn't be any problem. If you think of the mechanics of a HDD and how fragile they then realise they survive perfectly well in current laptops. This is just going to improve that further because there's no moving parts. That said, yes it will be a bit heavier.


June 25, 2009, 2:39 pm

@Xiphias - glass platters are common place in HDDs now http://en.wikipedia.org/wik... so no worry there.


June 25, 2009, 3:19 pm

Presumably like SSDs power consumption at idle will be negligible? I also imagine it is virtually silent, and should be more responsive than HDD as there is no need to spin up from sleep/cold and no need to move heads large distances (i.e. super-low seek times). Ability to read from many heads in parallel also a boon, but will need some clever controller circuitry as the whole data substrate moves as one, so each head must be in the same relative portion of its "zone" at a given time. I imagine long term no reason not to have multiple platters which, unlike conventional HDDs, could be addressed independently (i.e. they needn't move synchronously).


June 25, 2009, 3:47 pm

For me, provided I've understood it correctly, is the potential for growth here. I would think that the growth in speed could be exponential too, as it seems they would merely have to allow more read/write heads to be active at once.

If it offers this sort of performance with 64, imagine 128, 256 or even 1024. Very clever idea.


June 25, 2009, 3:59 pm

@ Kingsley - Another example of the dangers of Wikipedia. Although some glass may be used in platters, the substrate (which is what makes up the vast majority of the platter, and is what the media layer is printed on) is generally made up of a glass-ceramic composite.

However, I'm not sure there would be a substantial difference in weight, as a quick Googling reveals that glass has a specific gravity of around 2.5-3 depending on type, while most ceramics are around 3-4 (again, depending on type).


June 25, 2009, 5:37 pm

@smc8788 - Hmmm. The link was intended as a general indication that "glass platters" is not a risky, new technological solution as suggested by Xiphias. If you want another link, try http://www.storagereview.co... - I think "glass" is used as a sort of catch-all name in this case, rather like "LCD" in flat-panels covers a multitude of different technologies which differ at some level of detail.

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