Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Storage innovations

Data storage could be in for its biggest innovations in years.

SanDisk (NASDAQ: SNDK) recently unveiled a flash drive that starts to address the random write performance issues of earlier versions. This is one of those very subtle, but potentially transformative events in technology innovation. That's because it has the capability to render traditional hard drives obsolete.

Conventional hard drives have undergone massive improvements over the past decade. They are faster, more reliable and more efficient than ever. But the underlying technology is fundamentally the same as it was 20 years ago. Flash drives represented a big shift in storage, especially in terms of portability. No longer did your hard drive need its own carry-on bag. Multiple Gb's of data can be carried in your pocket. The trade-off, though, is speed. While a 5Gb memory stick is easy to tote around, it can take you a fair amount of time to use it... especially when you're adding data.

SanDisk claims to have made a big leap on this, with their ExtremeFFS file management system. If it delivers on its potential, then buying a PC with a 80Gb hard-drive will no longer be necessary. Your new laptop will be far lighter without that big magnet stuck inside. Think about the convenience of transferring files from your camera and expand it exponentially.

Keep your eye on SanDisk. They could be a big winner next year.

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