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How Far Are We From Petabyte Storage?

by Sean P. Aune | April 4, 2010April 4, 2010 5:41 pm PST

Do you remember when a Terabyte hard drive seemed like it would never be a reality for home use?  Well, I actually remember when I had to save up to buy a 1.2 GB hard drive for my 486 PC, and I was sure I could never use up that much storage space.  Now I look at my desk and the number of external hard drives sitting on top of my computer case, the NAS (Networked Additional Storage) box I have in another room and a couple of other unconnected hard drives, and I have to ask, “When will I be able to afford a Petabyte storage device?”

pile of hard drivesIf you aren’t familiar with the term, a Petabyte is 1,024 Terabytes.  The first time I remember even remotely thinking about that amount of storage was back in Jan. 2006 when EMC rolled out a Petabyte storage array that was made up of 2,400 500 GB hard drives.  While it filled an entire room, it would also set you back a mere $4 million at the time.

If you follow the traditional trajectory of hard drives, it would probably be around 2020 or so before we saw this much storage in a single drive, and even then there are issues about how much data can be stored on a physical platter, the cost of memory for solid state drives and on and on, there are just too many potential issues to even guess what the traget date will be for home use of that much space.

I think the bigger question is if we will even be using physical or local storage by that time.  It is quite possible we will never ever need to get to that sort of storage in a local situation as everything seems to be moving towards a cloud storage type situation.  We will probably still be using some local storage, but with more and more streaming media, which, lets be honest that is the majority of what is being store on our drives, there may not be a whole lot of reason to keep local copies.  If you’re just running programs from your local computer, and even that may move to an online situation, will you even need a hard drive in your computer?  Even EMC, the company behind the $4 million dollar array seem to moving more and more to off-site storage.

So while we still all dream of having that much storage at our disposal, only the future knows if we will ever even need it.

What say you?  When will we ever be able to have that much storage, and will we even need it?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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