Wednesday Dec 03, 2008

Phase-Change Archiving


The future of digital archiving for university and college libraries could lie in phase-change memory technology, according to Chris Wood, CTO for storage and data management at Sun Microsystems.

In his speech at the recent meeting of the Sun Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group (PASIG), a gathering of university librarians and archivists in Baltimore, Chris said that phase-change memory technology is likely to be a successor to aging magnetic storage technology for librarians and archivists.

The older magnetic storage technologies have almost hit their limits physically. Disk density is slowing. Tracks per drive are becoming a challenge. The more tracks are condensed, the more possibility of inaccuracies in the stored data. The capacity of optical storage technology (DVDs and CDs) is growing, but improvements have slowed significantly due to the fact that the consumer electronics business does not see a requirement for vastly increased capacities, Chris says, blunting cost effectiveness and leading users to seek alternatives. Flash memory has made great strides recently, but it also is approaching physical density limits.
PRAM
Image courtesy: Wikipedia
Phase-change technology relies on materials that change characteristics when exposed to heat (rather than electrical charges, as do current storage media). Its development is progressing rapidly, making it a possible alternative to flash memory for archival storage in 3-5 years. Additionally, phase-change memory does not wear out like current flash memory implementations after multiple write cycles.

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