SSD won't have a strong lead in big data age, or tape is coming back.
It seems indisputable for SSD to completely replace HDD, when its price of $0.14 per GB or even $0.12 per GB further puts pressure on HDD. It seems that HDD will withdraw from the storage market like a tape in the next few years.
However, with the advent of the DT era, data is growing exponentially, while improvement speed of storage technology and capacity is far from that of data growth, as well as more diverse data scene applications. In this context, SSD can no longer meet enterprise storage requirement. Therefore, the obsolete tape, together with HDD to be eliminated, perhaps re-enters storage market under the excavation of big data.
SSD capacity growth is far behind data growth
IDC statistics show that nearly 90% of the world's data have been generated in recent years. In 2025, global data volume will expand to 163ZB, equivalent to 10 times that of 16.1ZB in 2016.
Since the emergence of SSDs in 2011, SSD technology has been upgraded from 2D NAND technology to 3D NAND technology in the past seven years, when particles have evolved from SLC to QLC.
Regardless of the technological improvement or storage-particles evolution, the capacity of SSD only increases from 16MB or 32MB to 16TB, maximum 32TB. Although the amount of data and storage level are not much comparable, it is undeniable that the growth rate of SSD capacity is far behind the explosive growth of data.
Storage media have undergone 5-generation evolution.
After data generation, storage media have also undergone 5-generation evolution: tape, floppy disk, compact disc, HDD, and SSD. Prior to the evolution of HDD to SSD, the improvement of storage media is all for enhancement of capacity.
In the evolution from HDD to SSD, due to the limitation of NAND technology and flash particles, SSD is targeting at improving reading and writing speed, seismic resistance and free noise, thereby capacity not the key to the media improvement. Today, SSD is still at a disadvantage in capacity compared with HDD.
SSD does not apply to all scenarios
The rise of artificial intelligence, cloud computing, edge computing and the Internet of Things has made the application scenarios of data richer and more complex. At the same time, the data boundaries among heat, warm and cold characteristics are becoming more and more clear.
In terms of hot data or warm data, companies naturally want to increase the overall decision-making speed through SSDs, and this part of data, compared with cold data, is undoubtedly like egg against ostrich egg.
But these cold data, which accounts for the vast majority of global total data, require simply storage characteristics of storage medium, with less rigorous in performance. In this case, the mechanical hard disk with lower cost becomes the object of consideration for enterprises.
Besides HDD, don't forget the tape that has exited the historical stage. Compared with HDD, the cost of disk is much lower and its storage capacity is even greater.
It has been said that tape has withdrawn from the historical stage, but in fact the manufacturers who have already discovered business opportunities have not abandoned this technology, instead continuing to evolve.
For example, Sony launched digital tape technology for big data backup in 2014, whose magnetic storage density is 148 GB per square inch, 74 times that of the standard tape, and its maximum storage capacity can reach 185TB. IBM Institute in 2017 released a new tape with 201 GB per square inch, that is, up to 330TB per tape.
In the DT era with more diverse data applications scenarios, it is unrealistic for SSD to occupy entire storage market. But it is not a big problem to completely occupy the client market.
SSD, HDD and tape all have advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion, in addition to fully occupy the client market, SSD will also be widely used in enterprise hot data and warm data applications. As for enterprise core data and a large number of cold data, as well as the scenarios that only need to meet storage requirements, will still be HDD or even tape. Tape hasn’t been widely used for many years, and whether it can come back again?