Digital transformation by its definition is about using digital technology to solve problems, challenges. Flash being part of the overall umbrella of digital technology brings continued improvements, and benefits that roughly speaking fall under the following key areas:
We’ve seen Flash technology evolve in the past decade or so in all areas of storage performance. USB drives going through generational changes, from USB 1.1 to USB 2.0, then USB 3.0 and now USB 3.1 Gen2, and beyond. The USB standard evolving brings higher and higher throughput, and better additional features such as power delivery.
Removable media for digital cameras, tablets, mobile phones, drones, action cameras, professional broadcast cameras, etc have improved as well in terms of performance; think of today’s UHS-II cards vs the first SD cards. SD storage performance follows the trends in camera technology, as MP increase, so does the need for faster cards to store the photos for greater user experience. Some form factors and standards have disappeared and become obsolete, Think of SmartMedia, MMC, CF. New standards have been developed like SD Express, CF Express.
With the introduction of Solid-State Drives, the digital transformation on Flash based storage received a boost-up; traditional hard drives are continuing to phase out from many computing applications, and are being replaced by faster and faster SSDs. The original purpose of SSDs as accelerators have now transitioned to be a fully-fledged replacement to a traditional hard drive. Technology changes in SSDs as well continues to push the performance aspect; we’ve seeing a change from SATA drives to NVMe drives for example and the systems supporting NVMe technology are becoming a standard. In some ways the shift to SSD technology today is similar to how film cameras were slowly replaced by digital cameras.
There continues to be a push for larger and larger capacities. The drive behind this comes from ever increasing data size and the amount of data we generate, from digital cameras, picture or video resolution, to social media content, the shift in internet use to storing volumes of personal data, to consumption of content. Much of the things we used to take for granted are now delivered in digital format. This takes storage space.
As more and more data is stored in the cloud, the pressure is on timely delivery of content to the millions of users, think Facebook, Twitter and the demands they have on rapid retrieval of data, on a daily basis. Storage capacity therefore needs to increase. To solve the challenge of expanding capacity, semiconductors continue to develop new NAND types. In recent years the most significant change is from 2D Planar NAND to 3D NAND. As form factors dictate the physical size constraints for a device, think USB drive, SD card, even SATA SSD and what the physical dimensions are expected to be, the only method to bring higher capacity is to increase density. 3D NAND does just that, bringing multi-terabyte capacities for USB drives, SD cards, SSDs and other flash-based products.
A great motivator for gearing up on digital transformation is what the cost factor is for adopting newer and better technology. This is the case we’re seeing on every area where flash is used; any new innovation will be costly at first, and eventually production cost and manufacturing technology allows higher output, helping to bring costs down.
- Digital transformation by its definition is about using digital technology to solve problems.
- The shift to SSD technology today is similar to how film cameras were slowly replaced by digital cameras.
- As more and more data is stored in the cloud, the pressure is on timely delivery of content to the millions of users.
- A great motivator for gearing up on digital transformation is what the cost factor is.
By Pasi Siukonen, Technical Resources Group Team Leader, Kingston.