STORAGE DIRECTIONS TOWARD 2030

In the corporate world hard disks are now considered near line. Gamers would interpret that as waiting for a disk to spin up from idle. Disks can be configured to spinning 24/7 but saving a few watts adds up with billions of hard disks in use.

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DDR memory is still patented by the troll RAMbus et alia which has not really made any contribution to the industry. This makes RAM more expensive than it need be.

Between now and 2030 some $200 billion will he invested into the semiconductor manufacturing, Intel along is considering close to $100 billion over the next decade themselves. TSMC is likely to spend $50 billion. Samsung and SK Hynix are likely to expand substantially as well. Micron is likely to also expand to keep relevant in the industry. The stupendous cost of a foundry will result in fewer corporations with adequate capital.

NAND has seen organic growth that has now matured. The incumbant X570-A PRO has dual NVMe NAND slots and some more expensive motherboards have 3 slots. At present 2TB SSD are the most available however recently the Sabrent 8TB SSD has become available at more reasonable prices.

PCIe 4.0 is able to reach almost 8GB/s in NVMe bandwidth, The move to PCIe 5.0 doubles the performance which brings NAND closer to PC RAM for bandwidth. PCIe 6 will double the speed again which will pressure RAM perforamnce.

DDR5 brings 512GB to the desktop PC and DDR6 may reach 2TB more depending on the abiliy of Micron and Samsung etc to be able to make larger capacity DIMMs. No reason dual row DIMMs cannot fit consumer machines now and moving to 4 rows per side can bump capacity even more. The changes will affect some builds but consumers are flexible with new designs.

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3D XPoint, MRAM, ReRAM and other emerging memory technologies compete for developments that could find use with servers etc. XPoint is the most sucessful so far with other technologies are still on the drawing board, Intel has even made XPoint in DIMM format for server use. Pricing at present is driven by NAND and RAM which are the titans in the market.

Resistive Random Access memory is not volatile. Sometimes this is called a memristor.  Hewlett-Packard demonstrated a memristor-based ReRAM wafer in 2013, and predicted that 100 TB SSDs based on the technology could be available in 2018 with 1.5 PB capacities available in 2020, just in time for the stop in growth of NAND flash capacities. So far litle has been seen in the market.

Magnetoresistive RAM uses manetic domains. Currently, memory technologies in use such as flash RAM and DRAM have practical advantages that have so far kept MRAM in a niche role in the market.

NAND stacking seems to be able to reach beyond 500 layers which suggests larger capaciy models wiill be available down the road. NAND has influenced the RAM industry which is now looking at stacked designs. The trend for stacked devices seems to be future. Samsung has posted several articles on NAND stacking to show how the process works. Stacking logic has broader implications. Any technology now will now face some real tough competition for market share.

Hard disks are likely to become universally helium filled which has less friction. This allows more plates to be used and current 9 plate designs are in mass production. Improvements in areal density are constantly being researched by Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital. By 2030 larger capacity disks will allow for even larger media libraries etc.

The Nimbus Exadrive DC100 100TB SSD a few years ago was an example of technology that was not ready for mainstream. The SATA interface allowed the product to be installed in higher density servers. The price was brutal at $50,000 each. Slightly smaller models with a NNVMe interface are far less costly per GB and Micron and Samsung compete in the server market. Consumers can use the server SSD with a low cost cable if 15TB, 30TB or more is desired,

By the end of the decade I do not see a lot of change in the makeup of a gaming box or a server. NAND has revolutionized the non volatile sector but the cost per GB has to improve for it to displace hard disks. DDR5 will have mirated to DDR6 and most likely PCIe 6.0 speeds will become more common in servers. This considers the investments in new factories to crank out the hardware. Consumer hardware become less costly which will allow more to enter the realm of PC gaming.

Game consoles will likely see more storage as prices decline exponentially. This will help mitigate the 100 GB size of modern games. M.2 slots are ideal for consoles as well as PC gamers. At present the PS5 has one M.2 slot while the Xbox X|S have soldered parts. The M.2 slot is mature and making consoles easy to retrofit also affords a chance to clean them.

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