The future of storage?

The SD Card Association has unveiled a 2 Terabyte capacity microSD  card spec (SDXC) [InformationWeek article]. The specification uses the exFAT file system (FAT64).  Recently, SanDisk trumpeted drastic improvement in flash write speed.  Granted, the drastic speed boost will come to market long before the SDXC spec is maxed out.

Imagine the applications for carrying 500GB-2TB of data in a form smaller than your little finger’s fingernail. To me, up until now, desktop-scale SSD storage has meant 2.5” hard drive form factor magnitude.

Imagine the implications to:

  • The netbook/sub-notebook evolution – the MacBook Air suddenly looks like a luggable?
  • The evolution of smartphones – Savvy users may be able to have them as desktop replacements.
  • Optical media – Why would you ever wait 30 minutes to burn a DVD-DL again?
  • The entertainment industry
    • 200-1000 exact copies of DVDs could be stored on a single disc. Good luck detecting a microSD in Customs.
    • High Quality HD Video Cameras could be the size of a small point-and-shoot camera. YouTube becomes small potatoes compared to the amateur filmmakers whose hobbyist movies start competing with professionally produced movies.
  • The software industry
  • Information security
    • How much damage could a virtually undetectable 500GB drive connected to the network do?
    • How much damage could a misplaced 500GB drive the size of a fingernail do?
  • Green computing
    • The power consumption of such small drives could make current SSDs look like power hogs.
  • The potential death of the desktop PC? (Again…  didn’t we have this prediction in 1998?)

On a personal level, I’m just as intrigued at the possibility of exFAT/FAT64 being introduced as the file system for removable storage.  FAT32 does not make for good removable storage once you get to the 2-4 GB range.  If you have several small files, they quickly eat up space on disk, despite not taking up even a 1/4th of the actual space.   I’m also hopeful that exFAT will have better support outside of Windows than NTFS.

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