atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#479: It is pretty cool

Today I dropped a lot of money on a terabyte of storage.

Half of the terabyte is a Seagate Free Agent Pro 500, a 500 GB external hard drive. It looks like this:

It's got a USB port, of course, but it also has an eSATA port--something I didn't even know existed until now. I'm thinking I may have to invest in an eSATA interface card in order to make this thing niftier.

Anyway, right now it's backing up my critical data in the background.

The other half of the terabyte is a 500 GB internal SATA hard drive. It's going to replace the 120 GB EIDE drive which is my current F: drive; I'll copy the contents of the F drive to it, and then remove the EIDE drive. (Eventually that drive will go back into the P3, but there's no rush. The P3 was to be my fiancee's computer when she got here. But she's not coming, so fuck that noise.)

The activity light on the Free Agent pulses on and off, rather than flickers. The only way this would be cooler would be if the LEDs were blue instead of yellow. That's probably next year's model; the box for this one makes no mention of Windows Vista.

I didn't need all this storage before I started downloading digisubs. But this stuff takes up a lot of room, and I really wanted to have some kind of backup of everything, just in case. I think the Free Agent will help.

$160 at Best Buy, the same price as the 500 GB internal SATA drive was. Not bad.

* * *

But Jesus: a freaking terabyte. Five years ago I wouldn't have thought I needed anything like that much room. It's insane.

Back in the "good old days", of course, a terabyte was GOD-9000 storage--only a supercomputer needed storage like that, and only the biggest and richest companies could afford that kind of stuff.

But these days, with computers turning into multimedia servers and doing all kinds of wacky crap, you can't have "too much" storage any more.

Ten years ago, two gigabytes was a huge hard drive. Now I'm mulling whether two gigabytes of RAM will be enough, or should I bite the bullet and just get four?

Any way you look at it, computing in the 21st century is rapidly turning into freakin' Star Trek. The bigger hard drives get, the more stuff we find to put on them. What's going to happen in ten years?

When I was 20, a typical hard drive stored 40 MB. When I was 30, a typical hard drive stored 4 GB. And now I'm 40, and they're storing upwards of 400 GB. How much will hard drives store when I'm 50? When I'm 60? How about when I'm 80, my mother's age? It looks like it expanded about a hundredfold per decade, so if the progression continues, when I'm 50 they'll store 4 TB; at 60, 400 TB; and at 80, 40 exabytes.

When does it stop? Does it? Can it? Should it? I expect that putting bits on spinning platters will probably go the way of the dinosaur sooner or later, but whatever replaces that technology will be cheaper, faster, and denser. Sooner or later they'll run into quantum effects that make cramming bits into ever-tighter spaces impractical, but God alone knows what kind of insane information density that'll be. Richard Feynman was pretty sure that there's no lower limit to the power required for computation (and, therefore, the storage of computed information) but in practical terms we'll never be able to really push that envelope--and really, we should never need to, because sooner or later we'll have so many bits of storage that we'll be able to describe every atom in the observable universe.

I'm trying to figure out what the hell I could possibly need a 40 EB hard drive for. Other than Windows Bloatware, that is. Code expands to take advantage of the available hardware, but it's not going to take 40 EB to store Windows WTF--so what else will be on that hard drive? An entire library of HD video? How many bits does one need to devote to video before you reach the point of diminishing returns?

There'll be something to fill that space. I'm not worried about that. I'd just love to have an idea of what so I can maybe make some money on the deal....

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