Flash Memory: The Future Of Digital Storage

Modern technologies have changed lives of human beings. Information technology in one sense has made the world a global village. Internet does not require visa to visit a country virtually. You should have a computer and an internet connection to take a tour of that country to seek information and meet its people. In a nutshell, internet is a cyber world where a person enters and finds lots of stuffs including useful, informative, helpful, pirated, harmful and junk, even thieves who can gain access to your private data and steal it.

Now, one question is, where is all this cyber data stored? The answer is simple. Servers, which are connected to internet have storage medium where all this data is stored. Today, most commonly used storage medium is hard disk drive (HDD) at home and corporate level. Hard disk drive is very old technology but still widely used. Invention of solid state drive (SSD) has brought a revolution in the field of storage technologies. Solid state drivers is an innovation which is now setting new trends and introducing the world to a much better digital storage solution.

Solid state drives are based upon flash memory (NAND type) and are much faster and more reliable than hard disk drive. SSD offers more integrity to stored data and consumes very low power as compared to an HDD. On the other hand, today’s SSDs are also not free of disadvantages. Its cons include wearing out of flash memory over time. Due to this one big disadvantage, it is not preferably used in servers as servers has to read and write continuously and SSD can not well serve this purpose. For use in servers, HDD is still the desired option. Another factor which makes SSD unfavourable for use in servers is that SSDs currently offer very less space and are much more expensive as compared to an HDD . But research is going on and that day is not far away when cheap capacious SSDs will flood the market and eventually become most wanted storage solution of future.

Flash memory was invented by Dr Fujio Masuoka in 1980 while he was working for Toshiba. Later in 1988, when Intel saw the potential of this invention, it introduced its first commerical flash chip (NOR type). There are two main types of flash memory, one is NOR type based on NOR logic gate and the other one is NAND type based upon NAND logic gate. NAND type is primarily used in Solid state drives, memory cards and USB flash drives (data travelers). The reason why NAND flash memory is widely used now and preferred over NOR type is that it has reduced write and erase times, offers more capacity as compared to size and is cheaper than NOR flash memory.

Flash cards these days are widely used in electronic gadgets. Most mobile phones, cameras and tablets carry  expansion slots for expanding storage memory. Due to their small size, these can easily fit inside gadgets. MicroSD which is no bigger than human thumb nail is the smallest consumer based external memory expansion available. These days, manufacturers of electronic gadgets prefer MicroSD card expansion slot over PRO-Duo, SD and other available flash cards slot due to its small size and high capacity.

When it comes to the mobility of data, no one can deny the significance of USB flash drives commonly known as data travelers. These are small, extremely light weight and easy to carry digital data wallets. You work in office, study in college or university, carrying your work and assignments is now easy. Just put it in your flash drive and take it with you. Such technological evolution has made the life of human beings much easier.

Flash memory products including flash cards and flash sticks offer tens of thousands read / write cycles. A good quality solid state drive can survive more than 100,000 cycles. The figures can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

It is quite possible that in future, flash products will entirely take over the digital storage industry and hard drives, compact discs become the part of history just like compact cassettes, video cassettes and floppies. People are seeing advantage in flash memory. Perhaps, a small thin laptop hard drive which has taken the place of large refrigerator size first ever hard disk drive is also getting replaced with solid state drive. And possibilities are there that in near future, a MicroSD size storage device will take up the place of SSD. It is all the matter of times.

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