Flash drives comprehensively killed off floppy disks, and now a new development is threatening the same fate for hard drives.
Utah-based start-up company Fusion-io has unveiled a blisteringly fast, 640GB flash-based PCIe storage card it says can out perform hard drives by a factor of one thousand.
The initial model is designed to slot into a data centre chassis, but it could also be used inside a workstation or suitable PC.
Called the ioDrive, the card can read data at 800 megabytes per second and write at 600 megabytes a second. Initially it will be available in 80, 320 and 640GB versions, however the company has plans to ship a 1.2 terabyte version a little further down the track.
The card's impressive performance, currently sitting at 100,000 IOPS (input / output per second) comes from a proprietary technology called ioMemory.
According to the company's documentation, ioMemory is a new-generation architecture that "combines today's higher density NAND with high speed switching and network protocols to effectively eliminate the performance gap between memory and storage".
Hard drive makers love pointing out the fact that flash memory has a finite life, wearing out after a certain number of read/write cycles.
However Fusion-io says it has incorporated complex error correction techniques to "minimise fatigue and extend the service life of the NAND components within the ioDrive". It says the result is a service life of eight years compared with the typical five-year service life of mechanical hard drives.
When the drive does start to feel its age, users will notice a gradual reduction in available storage space, rather than a sudden failure. This way, no data is lost.
The cards will be available in the US from December this year, however there is no date yet for Australian release. Linux drivers will be available at launch with Windows Vista, XP and Server drivers following shortly after.
Pricing is yet to be confirmed, however the company says it is aiming to ship them for less than $US30 per gigabyte. Sounds cheap? 640GB multiplies out to be $19200. Ouch... sounds like the humble hard drive will be around for a long time yet.