Saturday, June 18, 2011

Drive, She Said...

A prototype disk drive based on phase-change memory can outperform an off-the-shelf flash hard disk ..............Technology Review.

Once upon a time there was a technology that involved storing information by imprinting tiny magnetic domains on spinning discs.  Information was accessed by positioning a magnetic sensor above the region where the information was stored.  The people of that time called these information storage devices "disc drives" or "hard drives."  More or less contemporaneously an alternate technology was invented wherein information was stored in arrays of electronic gates, which could be read by electronic switching mechanisms.

When versions of the latter were invented which could store information without substantial current consumption (non-volatile electronic memories -floating gate transistors) they started to compete with the disc drive in some applications.  Rude and unschooled youths tormented the old-timers by calling these new memories "solid-state hard drives" as if those spinning discs were airy nothings, I suppose.

Normally humble oldsters were outraged, though, when they started calling the electronic memories "disc drives."  Their children laughed at them.