Storage media has always been a hotly contested field, whether it be floppies, optical discs or hard drives. In the digital information age we live in, data storage and accessibility are a near ubiquitous requirement across the globe. Everyone has data storage needs, be it personal home users, small businesses, creative artists, or multinational corporations. With the advent of the internet, big data, downloadable media files and electronic documents, the need for affordable large storage has risen exponentially this millennium. For a long time, traditional platter-based HDDs have dominated the market for large data storage needs – 500GB and over has pretty much exclusively been the realm of HDDs. SSDs or solid state drives are a relatively recent entry into the data storage game, and have always outperformed HDDs in terms of speed accessing data. Up until very recently however, SSDs have not been able to match HDDs in terms of raw storage capacity. Now things have changed.
The very first SSD was actually released, believe it or not, in 1976 by Dataram. Named the Bulk Core, the first SSD was indeed bulky as its name implies, measuring nearly 50cm wide by 40cm high. Consisting of a rack-mount chassis with up to eight individual memory boards each housing 256KB of RAM. This provided 2MB of storage, a far cry from the star of today’s article. It took a few decades before SSDs hit the mainstream in the 2000’s, with SSD storage hitting the 50GB mark at a reasonable price for consumer PCs. The past decade has seen SSD manufacturers such as SanDisk and Samsung slowly increase storage space while decreasing cost. Slowly but surely, consumer PCs are now being bundled with SSDs pre-installed as opposed to HDDs, even in relatively cheap base models. At this low price range however, you still have to somewhat sacrifice large amounts of storage (we’re talking 500GB to 1TB range) to attain the fast speeds of SSDs.
Now Samsung have shown that the days of HDD supremacy in terms of raw storage may finally be coming to an end. The Korean giant unveiled their new SSD at the 2015 Flash Memory Summit, revealing a whopping 16TB of storage. The PM1633a uses Samsung’s own 3D NAND technology, which utilises 48 layer RAM chips. To put the number into perspective, Samsung’s previous SSDs utilised 32 layer technology, which doesn’t quite translate into 50% more storage in each chip, but according to Samsung it is more like a 30% increase. Each RAM chip holds up to 32GB of data, and Samsung have managed to pack 500 to 600 NAND chips into the PM1633a, enabling the latest Samsung flagship product to provide 16TB of storage. Samsung have yet to disclose the planned RRP, but don’t expect it to be affordable anytime soon. We are on the path to parity but not quite there yet.