Solid state drives that are more like huge usb-stick memories are going to disrupt all the computing world, when they replace the conventional hard disk. From operating systems to main processors, nothing will be the same within the next five years. Until now, disk drives have been passive receivers of data waiting for a database update, software configuration change, a new program to install or some other input/output task. All the software development has been conceived in the way of open/close files or  read/write data from the disk to main memory. Computers are turned on and off. These new memories, when fast and cheap enough will eliminate the need for the famous RAM memory and maybe letting just some memory space within the processor itself for a more quickly processing (buffering or whatever). Turning on and off will disappear, and the processor will be designed to function in wake-sleep modes only. The sleep state will serve to process some chores that do not require user's participation and maybe help them solve some kind of internet-search problem, prepare the next session with interesting stuff according to user tastes. The most interesting feature of these drives is that their whole space could be used as main memory. So very complex software will be able of performing intelligent activities such as better user-machine interface with audio and video interaction and more intuitive human-machine connection. The input/output or read/write logic might be discarded from programming languages. I think that processors won't be a single chip anymore but distributed ones (embedded into the main memory drive) with more simplistic tasks and maybe one main processor to guide the general operation.

I read somewhere that solid state drives are prone to fail when intensely used, so perhaps they should be developed to last longer for the prior ideas to be implemented. But it would be more interesting if those new memory drives were able of automatically replacing their own hardware, such as living tissue does, so they can live for many years. This could allow the development of personalized computers suited for each one's particular needs.
A link to a possible solution:
Phase change memory
Self repairing hardware

Maybe bigger platforms carrying SSDs could be based upon artificial intelligence. Then a few questions come out. Will the conventional directory tree and file system be replaced by an associative data storage? What kinds of associations? What could be the minimum data unit? Perhaps an idea could be that minimum. And what is an idea? Would these techniques mimic the chaotic human brain way of thinking? Could machine memories be as dynamical as human ones, being rebuilt every time one recovers them?

Interesting link from a com
ment on G+:
Phase change memory

7 comentarios:

  1. they're fantastic. they run faster, yet consume less energy.

  2. Comments are now open to everybody for all of my articles. So check them out and be nice when discussing.

  3. They are much faster than HD but not faster than RAM today. There are at least 6 speed differentials in modern systems:
    1) cpu cache
    2) RAM
    3) SSD
    4) Shared memory in a cluster
    5) HD
    6) Cloud

    For maximum processing speed you need to take advantage of all of them that are relevant to your task and device. There is no one silver bullet.

  4. The worst thing about SSDs is that each location is only good for a few 10s or 100s of thousands of write operations - this makes them totally unsuitable for "temp" files, "swap" space - they are also far slower than RAM - so getting rid of RAM is a long way off - as for getting rid of the off state we will need 100% reliable operating systems first.

    1. So that's a challenge for engineering. Developing a never-crashing OS. The human brain never crashes so I think it is likely to develop such kind of OS.

  5. When I started to read your article my initial thought was aren't solid state drives prone to malfunctioning very easily but near the end of the article I'm glad to see that you mentioned the issue.

    I'm not a very good computer programmer so I may be mistaken but if they did somehow find a way to make solid state drives reliable would it not mean that many existing applications would have to be re-written?

    Good article César, who knows? you may be on to something here.

    1. That's why I call it "disruptive drives". It is going to be a huge tech earthquake.