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French Version

INTERFACE : Insatiable hunger for storage

With time, storage needs exploded, and gigabytes, which used to be a privilege for the few who had money became cheap enough for the average-budget user.

JORDAN (Star) - Hunger for more and more storage space in today's PC industry is alarming for anyone who's been in computing for a couple of decades. Up until ten years ago, a typical PC came with an 80 to 120 MB hard drive and we thought that was a lot. At the time, the leaps in storage requirements were a result of the move to Windows applications, which were graphic intensive and not quite optimized with storage limitations in mind.
With time, storage needs exploded, and gigabytes, which used to be a privilege for the few who had money became cheap enough for the average-budget user.
Today, you can get a 40 Gigabyte hard disk as standard on any PC, as that drive costs as little as JD 30. Imagine, back in 1994 I paid JD 120 for a 120MB drive, that almost one Dinar per megabyte. Now, six years later every 1000 Megabytes cost 750 fils (three quarters of a Dinar)!

Today's applications, games and every other piece of software available are storage-hungry and it wouldn't be surprising if you've already filled up your 40GB hard disk. The storage market also includes removable storage devices like CD-RW drives, Zip drives and so on. The feeble floppy is useless nowadays. The 1.44MB a floppy disk offers can barely carry text-only files, small Word documents, small Excel sheets and, maybe, tiny graphic images.

Almost everybody is moving onto to large removable storage solutions such as the writable CD media, which offers users 600MB, at least. That resembles a 400% leap in storage capacity over the floppy!

Accordingly, the global storage market is reaching massive figures. International Data Corp (IDC) predicts that the market for storage devices will reach $71 billion by 2004. Storage decisions are critical for organizations planning their IT future, as larger organization more dependent on data storage demand bigger storage capabilities everyday. It's not surprising that IT managers and administrators are studying the details of 'storage-science' which basically keeps them up-to-date with the latest storage technologies such as iSCSI and infiniband and helps them predict the exponential storage requirements in the years to come.

These are important factors in purchasing storage solutions and have an impact on what IT managers call 'total-cost of ownership'. Storage decisions are crucial for IT infrastructures in business. For home and small office users, there are also some decisions to be considered. If you utilize your PC for multimedia applications, then the performance of your hard disk will be important. For start, there's the issue of the size of the buffer which has got to be 2MB to get decent performance. Most new hard disks, whether internal or external, include such an amount of buffer memory.

Next, there's the matter of 'rotation speed' of the drive measured in rotations per minute (RPM). This determines the seek-times of data on the drive. Any drive with an RPM of 5400 or more can deliver data at the rate of 10 to 11 ms (millisecond), which is just fine. New technologies for external hard drives are worth checking out, especially FireWire.The Firewire (also known as IEEE 1394) interface is a hardware standard that is supported by different types of devices, such as digital cameras, which enables these devices to 'talk-to' your hard drive faster.

Therefore, FireWire-ready drive and a Firewire digital video camera will provide the fast access and transfer needed for video. So the world of storage solutions has grown more complex, yet it offers us fantastic computing power for a fraction of the price in the past. Maybe you'll never have to worry about these details if you buy well-configured home PC, but when you upgrade your hard disk you'll need to know a thing or two. Now, more than anytime before, knowledge in computer hardware is power!

Zeid Nasser
The Star

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