At some point in the next 10-15 years, the last "rotating iron" hard disk will be made.
That's a profound thought. Admittedly, I may get the date wrong, but the point remains. Just as the CRT, the floppy drive and the CD has gone away, hard disks will become a rarity.
Who cares? Those of us building the future Hadoop platforms do.
GFS& MapReduce, Hadoop HDFS and its MR Engine, are all designed to take advantage of "commodity hardware". That means rather than pay for top of the line Itanium, PowerPC or Sparc servers running a Sysv-derived Unix, they use servers built from x86 parts running Linux. This is not because of any ideological support of the x86 architecture: nobody who has ever written x86 assembler or debugged win32 C++ apps at that level will be fond of the x86. No, x86 parts were chosen as they were the servers with the most cost effective performance, a manageable power budget (compared to Itanium) and because people made servers with them on board.
And why are x86 parts so cost effective -even though they have so many millions of transistors Because Intel have managed to take the revenue from each generation of parts into funding the R&D work and new fabs needed for the next generation of CPU parts and the processes to manufacture them.
It is the mass consumer and corporate demand for PC desktops that has given us affordable high-performance x86 parts,
Even if the Xeon stuff doesn't work in the desktop, the fabs and the core design are shared -the volumes kept the cost down.
With the emergence of phones and tablets as the new consumer internet access point, sales of PC parts are flatlining, and may decrease in future. Our home PC is used as a store for photographs and a device for a ten year old to play minecraft or -or to watch youtube videos of minecraft. He isn't committed to intel parts, and as for the photgraphs, well, 1TB of cloud storage isn't affordable -yet- but that may change. And when your phone can upload directly to facebook, why faff around downloading things to a local PC?
Even enterprise PCs are changing, they are called "laptops" and SSD storage is moving down from the "ultrabook" class of devices to becoming mainstream -at a guess within 3-5 years they'll be SSD everywhere.
The world of end user devices are changing -which is going to have implications for servers. We need to look at those trends and start planning ahead, not just to handle the "what happens when HDDs go away" problem, but "how can we make best use of these new parts in 18-24 months?
Which brings me round to the whole point of this article: my other talk is Hadoop: Embracing Future Hardware,
Vote for it. If not, you'll be taken by surprise when the future happens around you while you weren't looking.
[Photo: something from the harbourfest , 2008l]