Storage without moving parts?

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Lawrence Lee

MassMan
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2005 12:53 am
Location: Denmark
Contact:

Storage without moving parts?

Post by MassMan » Wed Mar 09, 2005 1:52 pm

I've just installed a new system for a friend, and although the 7200.7 he wanted isnt that loud it still vibrates a lot. As my friend doesn't have internet I had brought my pendrive along for drivers and stuff. Then I started wondering... The pendrive is totally silent (afaik) with its flashram, so why not make a +100gb flashram harddrive and get total silence? The price aside, is it possible and will we probably see large storage without moving parts in the future?

Just wondering...

sthayashi
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 3214
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 10:06 am
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Post by sthayashi » Wed Mar 09, 2005 2:05 pm

When I have the money, I'm gonna get me a drive from here.

They don't state a price and when I asked for a quote, it was.... a lot. More than what I could afford and I'm willing to pay for a lot here.

The price for something useful for even just programs was considerably more than what I paid for my car.
[size=75][url=http://www.twolf1300.net/sthayashi/SPCR/systems.html]My Power Rig, Storage Rig, HTPC and Main Rig[/url][/size]

mathias
Posts: 2057
Joined: Sun Jul 11, 2004 3:58 pm
Location: Toronto
Contact:

Post by mathias » Wed Mar 09, 2005 2:25 pm

sthayashi wrote:The price for something useful for even just programs was considerably more than what I paid for my car.
:shock: That's insane.

Instead of flash memory, what about the ROM memory types that are used in some equivalent applications (eg. bioses)? Do those need to be manufactured with the data they contain, are are they like other WORM media? Even if the data has to be written during manufacturing, wouldn't it be a lot faster if at least part of the OS and apps loaded of non-moving memory?

Are/were zip, jazz, sparq, dataplay and the like noisy?
Last edited by mathias on Wed Mar 09, 2005 2:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

StarfishChris
Posts: 968
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 7:13 pm
Location: Bristol, UK
Contact:

Post by StarfishChris » Wed Mar 09, 2005 2:26 pm

Solid state disks already exist, but they're pricey. I don't think you're going to get anywhere near a useful capacity without going into 4 digits.


Edit: oops, bit slow there :P The chips are going to have the same problem, you won't get anywhere near a useful capacity (for any price?). Most non-volatile RAMs are simply not big enough* so using them for storage is pointless.

*well I don't know of anything that uses over 100MB, for example. Correct me if I'm wrong...
It's coming back

mathias
Posts: 2057
Joined: Sun Jul 11, 2004 3:58 pm
Location: Toronto
Contact:

Post by mathias » Wed Mar 09, 2005 2:37 pm

What about reducing the speed of hard drives? I'm guessing it's more complicated than using a fan controller, zenner diodes or a seperate power soucre, but has anyone tried anything like that? If I get an old drive I won't need, maybe I'll try 5-volting the motor (I just hope nothing else uses the 12 volt line)

nick705
Posts: 1162
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2004 3:26 pm
Location: UK

Post by nick705 » Wed Mar 09, 2005 2:41 pm

This is another solution... it uses standard DRAM and takes up to 16GB. It has a trickle feed from the PSU to retain the data when it's powered down, and a battery backup for outages.

It's still not exactly a cheap solution, but nowhere near as expensive as flash RAM. I suppose the best way to use it would be to just install the minimum amount of RAM necessary to hold your OS and apps, and have your data stored on a conventional server somewhere else linked by gigabit Ethernet.

I haven't seen any independent reviews, so no idea how well it works in practice...

Bitter Jitter
Posts: 141
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2004 7:16 am
Location: Norwich, England

Post by Bitter Jitter » Wed Mar 09, 2005 2:44 pm

Electrcial forms of storage have a long way to go before they can compete with storage that requires moving parts. Personally i see the future of storage in holograms.....
At the moment laptop hard drives are about as close as you can get to cost effective, quiet storage.
Last edited by Bitter Jitter on Wed Mar 09, 2005 2:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
[size=75]AMD Athlon 64 2800+ (Clawhammer) (Semi Passive with Coolermaster 120mm fan above bare stock heatsink) - GEIL PC3200 1Gb (2 x 512Mb) - Asus K8N - Radeon 9800pro (Arctic Cooling VGA) - Samsung SP1203N (Suspended) - Antec Plusview - LG 4120 - Seasonic S12 380w [/size]

StarfishChris
Posts: 968
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 7:13 pm
Location: Bristol, UK
Contact:

Post by StarfishChris » Wed Mar 09, 2005 2:47 pm

I believe the AAM feature is designed to do exactly that. But it's disabled for the Seagate... (solution = suspension ;))

I for one wouldn't try the 12v trick since it probably is likely that other stuff depends on it, but at least the drive will die in the name of silence rather than being unwanted!
It's coming back

Bitter Jitter
Posts: 141
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2004 7:16 am
Location: Norwich, England

Post by Bitter Jitter » Wed Mar 09, 2005 2:51 pm

HyperOS Systems wrote: Can be destructively reformatted (The HyperDrive III can perform a full format almost instantly)
It a good way of marketing, if the battery dies you can kiss your data goodbye!
[size=75]AMD Athlon 64 2800+ (Clawhammer) (Semi Passive with Coolermaster 120mm fan above bare stock heatsink) - GEIL PC3200 1Gb (2 x 512Mb) - Asus K8N - Radeon 9800pro (Arctic Cooling VGA) - Samsung SP1203N (Suspended) - Antec Plusview - LG 4120 - Seasonic S12 380w [/size]

mathias
Posts: 2057
Joined: Sun Jul 11, 2004 3:58 pm
Location: Toronto
Contact:

Post by mathias » Wed Mar 09, 2005 2:59 pm

StarfishChris wrote: I for one wouldn't try the 12v trick since it probably is likely that other stuff depends on it, but at least the drive will die in the name of silence rather than being unwanted!
Maybe it's possible to find and get at the line that powers the motor without exposing the platters?

They're supposed to work at 10.8v anyway, so if your 12v line is very high, a fanmate at maximum should work.

StarfishChris
Posts: 968
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 7:13 pm
Location: Bristol, UK
Contact:

Post by StarfishChris » Wed Mar 09, 2005 3:42 pm

Make sure the fanmate can handle the spinup current. No fans are in excess of 1A while HDs are, so this could very well be a problem.
It's coming back

nick705
Posts: 1162
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2004 3:26 pm
Location: UK

Post by nick705 » Wed Mar 09, 2005 3:48 pm

Bitter Jitter wrote:
HyperOS Systems wrote: Can be destructively reformatted (The HyperDrive III can perform a full format almost instantly)
It a good way of marketing, if the battery dies you can kiss your data goodbye!
Well, it's pretty obvious that you wouldn't store critical data on it, but it could work OK for your OS and apps as I suggested, with your user data on a conventional drive somewhere on the network out of earshot. You could also store a ghost image of the drive on the network so you could be back up and running fairly quickly if the power went off and the battery died at the same time.

I suppose there are more effective ways of spending that kind of money though, unless you're particularly sensitive to HDD noise.

andywww
Posts: 85
Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2004 8:54 pm
Location: Palo Alto

magicram

Post by andywww » Wed Mar 09, 2005 3:55 pm

Someone posted a while ago about a company called magicram that made a flash memory hd replacement, you could try searching for their post.
[size=75]P4 3.06 + Zalman 7000AlCuA, ATI Radeon 9600, SST 350, Seagate 7200.7 80gb & 120gb, 2x 120mm Orange Yate Loon, SLK3000B[/size]

Shining Arcanine
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 502
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2004 2:02 pm

Re: Storage without moving parts?

Post by Shining Arcanine » Wed Mar 09, 2005 4:41 pm

MassMan wrote:I've just installed a new system for a friend, and although the 7200.7 he wanted isnt that loud it still vibrates a lot. As my friend doesn't have internet I had brought my pendrive along for drivers and stuff. Then I started wondering... The pendrive is totally silent (afaik) with its flashram, so why not make a +100gb flashram harddrive and get total silence? The price aside, is it possible and will we probably see large storage without moving parts in the future?

Just wondering...
The flash will wear out rather quickly. You'll have to get Microsoft to redesign Windows to store data exclusively in the RAM (meaning no paging) and drastically increase the minimum memory requirement (to something like 1GB of RAM) to significantly prolong the life of the flash memory.

mathias
Posts: 2057
Joined: Sun Jul 11, 2004 3:58 pm
Location: Toronto
Contact:

Post by mathias » Wed Mar 09, 2005 5:57 pm

StarfishChris wrote:Make sure the fanmate can handle the spinup current. No fans are in excess of 1A while HDs are, so this could very well be a problem.
But it would only be reducing voltage by 1.5v, instead of up to 7v, so less than a quarter. On the other hand, fan amperage at 5v would be about half of amperage at 10.5v, and hard drives are at least around 2amps at spin up. But, if the amperage limit is a heat limitation, shouldn't it be capable of withstanding a few seconds of excess power?

sthayashi
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 3214
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 10:06 am
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Post by sthayashi » Wed Mar 09, 2005 9:39 pm

mathias wrote:What about reducing the speed of hard drives? I'm guessing it's more complicated than using a fan controller, zenner diodes or a seperate power soucre, but has anyone tried anything like that? If I get an old drive I won't need, maybe I'll try 5-volting the motor (I just hope nothing else uses the 12 volt line)
If you want to destroy a hard drive, why not do something more exciting like Tameshigiri?

Remember that the spinning platter produces an airflow that keeps the head from crashing down onto it. You know those "Don't cover this hole" holes you see in the hard drive? That's there so that the air pressure within the drive is the same as the outside world. If the head comes down onto the platter, you've ruined the drive.

Now spinning down the motor doesn't necessarily mean that you'll crash the drive. In fact, what you're suggesting will probably just cause the drive to turn itself off, since they're far more complicated than fans.

If you're really looking to reduce the voltage to a drive, why not hook it up to a 5w potentiometer? That should be more than capable of handling a 12V line at 1amp.
[size=75][url=http://www.twolf1300.net/sthayashi/SPCR/systems.html]My Power Rig, Storage Rig, HTPC and Main Rig[/url][/size]

kcg
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2005 4:24 am
Location: Czech Republic

Post by kcg » Thu Mar 10, 2005 1:44 am

mathias wrote:
sthayashi wrote:The price for something useful for even just programs was considerably more than what I paid for my car.
:shock: That's insane.

Instead of flash memory, what about the ROM memory types that are used in some equivalent applications (eg. bioses)? Do those need to be manufactured with the data they contain, are are they like other WORM media? Even if the data has to be written during manufacturing, wouldn't it be a lot faster if at least part of the OS and apps loaded of non-moving memory?

Are/were zip, jazz, sparq, dataplay and the like noisy?
If I had a time for experiments, I would go with DVD as a solid ram, a lot of RAM (for caching) and with as big as possible flash (1GB or 2GB are current today?) for writable storage. The issue here is to not ruine flash storage with repeated writes which needs to be supported by OS. Also you need to have support for some kind of union FS, which will be able to union your DVD and flash storage so it will look like convenien disk (i.e. load from DVD if not on flash, write to flash). I'm afraid MS is not fan of such solution so you will need to go with BSD or Linux.

Cheers,
Karel
PS: For my planned desktop, I have decided to go with 2.5" drive and some silencing solution.

MassMan
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2005 12:53 am
Location: Denmark
Contact:

Post by MassMan » Tue Apr 26, 2005 11:15 am


Green Shoes
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 477
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2005 6:41 am
Location: Nashville, TN

Post by Green Shoes » Tue Apr 26, 2005 8:03 pm

I think this is a pretty cool idea. While solid-state storage is still prohibitively expensive and (compared to spinning HDDs) slow (well, non-volatile anyway), having a really large cache can help keep at least the seek noise down, since it obviously won't have to seek as often. I doubt whine will get much less in the near future, although if they can find a way to spin the drives down completely that would help. But it's encouraging news.

Tibors
Patron of SPCR
Posts: 2674
Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2004 6:07 am
Location: Houten, The Netherlands, Europe

Post by Tibors » Tue Apr 26, 2005 8:11 pm

Green Shoes wrote:I doubt whine will get much less in the near future, although if they can find a way to spin the drives down completely that would help.
They already do spin down the drive.
Samsung wrote:...allowing the drive to spin down for the majority of the time while the operating system writes and reads from the flash. As soon as the write buffer is full, the drive spins up and data is written to it.
3) MSI RS480M2-IL | A64 3000+ | Freezer 64 | SS-301HT | 7200.7 PATA 40GB
5) Intel D525MW | Intel 320 40GB | Vertex II 180GB

Poodle
Posts: 254
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2005 3:17 am
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden.

Post by Poodle » Tue May 03, 2005 2:41 pm

Heard (e.g. read) something about that there are working prototype SD-flash cards with the capacity of 2 Tb.

Think I read it at a PDA site a couple months ago. It was probably www.brighthand.com (hey, it wasn't on april 1st) :lol:

Maybe our big hdd based desktops are turning into dinosaurs any day now... :wink:
....Heeeeeyyyy.......wait a minute! :idea: Then most of my dampening efforts would have been made invain. :cry:

But perhaps the'll go a little "Intel" and wait existing technology out..... :P
"People who enjoy waving flags
don't deserve to have one". / Banksy

Green Shoes
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 477
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2005 6:41 am
Location: Nashville, TN

Post by Green Shoes » Tue May 03, 2005 8:06 pm

They've got a couple other issues they need to fix with flash first. The main one is that they can only be written to about 100,000 times, which doesn't translate to a great amount of time in HDD years. Secondly, the transfer rates are currently a lot slower than even a 5400 RPM hard drive. Once they fix both of those I'm in :D

MoJo-chan
Posts: 167
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2003 3:49 pm

Post by MoJo-chan » Wed May 04, 2005 2:49 pm

One option to consider. Make a RAID array of 1GB flash drives (Compact Flash would work well) and put just your OS and core apps on it. You could either use RAID 5/0 for security, or just ghost your system reguarly. Turn off your page file in Windows XP (works fine with 1GB RAM, I never run out even playing games).

You could then put all your apps on a server in another room, connected by gigabit ethernet, or perhaps in an external drive enclosure in another room. Firewire, SATA and USB can all use reasonably long cables to make this possible. There is even SCSI. You can even get dedicated boxes with a HD and ethernet port from people like Linksys, or use a minature motherboard (old terminals (Thin Clients) and PC-104 systems would be good).

elec999
Posts: 273
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:54 pm

Post by elec999 » Wed May 04, 2005 2:56 pm

I wish that there was a way to use a few sticks of ram as a hardddrive. Just like there is compact flash to ide. There should be something like that for ram. At a affordable price. The hyper drive is really expensive.
Thanks

Shining Arcanine
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 502
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2004 2:02 pm

Post by Shining Arcanine » Wed May 04, 2005 4:06 pm

MoJo-chan wrote:One option to consider. Make a RAID array of 1GB flash drives (Compact Flash would work well) and put just your OS and core apps on it. You could either use RAID 5/0 for security, or just ghost your system reguarly. Turn off your page file in Windows XP (works fine with 1GB RAM, I never run out even playing games).
RAID won't be extremely effective as mutiple flash drives will probably die around the same time.

As for the paging file, even if you turn it off, Windows will still page. The only thing is that it won't be paging to a single place, it will be paging to mutiple places on your hard drive which is detrimental to performance and might hurt reliability.
MoJo-chan wrote:You could then put all your apps on a server in another room, connected by gigabit ethernet, or perhaps in an external drive enclosure in another room. Firewire, SATA and USB can all use reasonably long cables to make this possible. There is even SCSI. You can even get dedicated boxes with a HD and ethernet port from people like Linksys, or use a minature motherboard (old terminals (Thin Clients) and PC-104 systems would be good).
That is an idea but it isn't as attractive as a solid state disk that can fit in a 3.5" form factor.

MoJo-chan
Posts: 167
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2003 3:49 pm

Post by MoJo-chan » Thu May 05, 2005 1:41 am

Shining Arcanine wrote:RAID won't be extremely effective as mutiple flash drives will probably die around the same time.
True enough. Backups are the solution. I said RAID because it would improve performance to a usable level.
Shining Arcanine wrote:As for the paging file, even if you turn it off, Windows will still page. The only thing is that it won't be paging to a single place, it will be paging to mutiple places on your hard drive which is detrimental to performance and might hurt reliability.
That simply isn't true. If you turn paging off, Windows does not page. There is no paging file on any drive. Nowhere to page to. I see no evidence (e.g. HD thrashing, HD space used) to suggest that anything is being paged.

Under Linux (and I think most Unix systems) programs are still paged, even without a swap partition. That's because program code is effectively paged all the time in the form of the executable file itself, so no specific swap area is needed. I don't think Windows does that though, and even if it does it's only reads so won't kill the flash so much.

The biggest program will be log files. Some apps like Photoshop and 3D Studio might suffer too, but I don't use them (Paintshop Pro is okay).

Oh, and as for performance, Windows is MUCH faster without a page file. In particular, if I have several applications open (as I often do: Firefox, The Bat, BNR3, Trillian, Directory Opus, Folding@Home etc) switching between them is instant. No more waiting for the disk to grind.
Shining Arcanine wrote:That is an idea but it isn't as attractive as a solid state disk that can fit in a 3.5" form factor.
No arguments there, but it would be a lot cheaper.

Shining Arcanine
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 502
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2004 2:02 pm

Post by Shining Arcanine » Thu May 05, 2005 4:20 am

MoJo-chan wrote:
Shining Arcanine wrote:As for the paging file, even if you turn it off, Windows will still page. The only thing is that it won't be paging to a single place, it will be paging to mutiple places on your hard drive which is detrimental to performance and might hurt reliability.
That simply isn't true. If you turn paging off, Windows does not page. There is no paging file on any drive. Nowhere to page to. I see no evidence (e.g. HD thrashing, HD space used) to suggest that anything is being paged.

Under Linux (and I think most Unix systems) programs are still paged, even without a swap partition. That's because program code is effectively paged all the time in the form of the executable file itself, so no specific swap area is needed. I don't think Windows does that though, and even if it does it's only reads so won't kill the flash so much.

The biggest program will be log files. Some apps like Photoshop and 3D Studio might suffer too, but I don't use them (Paintshop Pro is okay).

Oh, and as for performance, Windows is MUCH faster without a page file. In particular, if I have several applications open (as I often do: Firefox, The Bat, BNR3, Trillian, Directory Opus, Folding@Home etc) switching between them is instant. No more waiting for the disk to grind.
Yes it is true and what gets me is that you said why it is true after saying it wasn't. :lol:

Windows pages to the program files without a paging file just like Linux does without a swap partition. Hence why, it still pages without a paging file. If you want to eliminate this you'll need to setup a RAM disk for Windows to page to.

By the way, your program files are scattered all over your hard drive. :wink:

MoJo-chan
Posts: 167
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2003 3:49 pm

Post by MoJo-chan » Fri May 06, 2005 9:32 am

Shining Arcanine wrote:Yes it is true and what gets me is that you said why it is true after saying it wasn't. :lol:

Windows pages to the program files without a paging file just like Linux does without a swap partition. Hence why, it still pages without a paging file. If you want to eliminate this you'll need to setup a RAM disk for Windows to page to.

By the way, your program files are scattered all over your hard drive. :wink:
I have spent some time trying to check this, but I can't see any indication that Windows XP does use program files as extra swap space. Even if it does, it doesn't see to slow the machine down at all. Sure, I have RAID, but even so I can tell when the page file is on and when it is disabled, simply by using the machine.

With a page file, when you switch between programs, there is a delay as the programs window bitmap is loaded back in. Some apps like IE re-render the page. Firefox does not seem to, it relies on Windows storing the bitmap in the page file. A good test is to try using QuickPAR to create a fairly large parity set (say, one DVDs worth). Your system will become really slow with a page file, without one you don't even notice.

Oh, and my original point still stands. If you are using flash memory, even if Windows does re-load programs all the time, it's only reading so isn't shortening the life-span of the flash.

lm
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 1251
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2003 6:14 am
Location: Finland

Post by lm » Fri May 06, 2005 9:40 am

Has anyone tested those 1" hard drives, which hold up to 5GB? Are they even quieter than 2.5" drives?

Shining Arcanine
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 502
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2004 2:02 pm

Post by Shining Arcanine » Fri May 06, 2005 6:26 pm

MoJo-chan wrote:I have spent some time trying to check this, but I can't see any indication that Windows XP does use program files as extra swap space. Even if it does, it doesn't see to slow the machine down at all. Sure, I have RAID, but even so I can tell when the page file is on and when it is disabled, simply by using the machine.

With a page file, when you switch between programs, there is a delay as the programs window bitmap is loaded back in. Some apps like IE re-render the page. Firefox does not seem to, it relies on Windows storing the bitmap in the page file. A good test is to try using QuickPAR to create a fairly large parity set (say, one DVDs worth). Your system will become really slow with a page file, without one you don't even notice.
http://channel9.msdn.com/

Ask there about what happens when you turn off the paging file. I did and if I recall several people (including one or two guys from Microsoft) wouldn't leave me alone until they got me to turn my paging file back on. When I did, performance seemed to improve; of course since you're using flash memory that doesn't matter as access times are the same regardless of where the data is located.

By the way, the paging file from Windows NT and swap file from Windows 9x are two different things. Please don't use the terms interchangeably.
MoJo-chan wrote:Oh, and my original point still stands. If you are using flash memory, even if Windows does re-load programs all the time, it's only reading so isn't shortening the life-span of the flash.
I never said it didn't.

Post Reply