I am just returning from the IEEE Mass Storage conference and found it to be very interesting. All of the presentations can be found online. Of all of the presentations, the one that I found most interesting was one about the limits of future density for storage technologies.
Dr. Fontana discusses the limits in areal density for various storage technologies, including NAND, HDD and tape. He also discusses the challenges for manufacturing some of these technologies. For example, on page 22 is an excellent discussion of some of the manufacturing challenges hard drive manufactures will face for bit-patterned media (BPM) and heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR). This is an excellent discussion of some of the lithography limits for NAND and the challenges for density that NAND will face. Dr. Fontana has written on this topic before and is well known in this area.
So you might ask how and why does this impact me and my organization? Understanding planned density increases impact budgets and often determines the balance between various tiers of storage. There are many claims from various vendors about the future densities that will be available. Some of them are right, and some of them based on this presentation are just wrong. It is also important to remember that increases in areal density often do not directly translate into increases in density in our devices. Sometimes there are cost impacts and sometimes because of reliability issues more ECC is needed and some of the density increase is taken to ensure data integrity.
I think we all believe this to be a good thing. I think everyone should read this presentation, and I encourage you to consider attending this interesting technically oriented conference next year.