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    Storage Pairing Explained

    The best way to get flash memory into computers isn’t to replace HDDs but to augment them.  For a vast majority of computer users the amount of storage they need is beyond what they can afford with flash memory alone.  This trend is liable not to change in the future even as the costs of flash memory go down because HDDs will increase in storage capacity  as well and the storage requirements of these users will increase as least as fast or perhaps even faster.   However, these users would love to get a higher performing computer and putting some flash memory in combination with a hard disk drive could be a very attractive means to do this.

    Hybrid HDDs that include some flash memory in the HDD are one approach but flash memory can also be installed in a computer motherboard or installed as a second drive.   A recent report from Coughlin Associates and Objective  Analysis explores these hybrid and paired storage and memory architectures.  The main requirement to accomplish the performance and cost advantages of a paired storage systems in managing what is stored on the flash memory, and what on the hard disk drive.  There are several software tools described in the report to provide this storage management.  Paired and hybrid storage can also reduce system power use.

    The combination of flash memory and HDDs is so compelling that the authors project a 53% adoption rate in desktop computers and a 25% adoption rate in notebook computers by 2016. 

    Furthermore, today’s media tablets will not provide for the needs of many business and power users who would like mobile products with more capability than can be provided by today’s tablets.  This will lead to a new category of “fat tablet” computers that combine some flash memory with hard disk drives as well as other enhancements to meet this market need.  The report projects that 40% of the total tablet market will be “fat tablets” by 2016.

    The report can be ordered from Coughlin Associates at:  http://www.tomcoughlin.com/techpapers.htm.

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