Memory technologies and innovative computer designs

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Changes to memory technologies are leading to ever more innovative designs.

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Key changes

The key changes to memory technologies are:

  • storage on a storage device, and especially on flash storage devices has been increasing.
  • the speed that you can read and write to storage devices has been increasing.
  • the cost of storing each byte has been decreasing.
  • the power needed for each storage device has been decreasing.

1. The amount of data that can be stored on a device is increasing all the time. As a result, storage devices are becoming smaller and smaller. For example, you can now get micro SD cards which can hold many Gigabytes of data. You can also buy tiny pen drives, which can hold huge amounts of data compared to devices of just a few years ago.

2. Because magnetic, optical and solid state devices can hold so much more, and the time taken to read and write to these devices has got so much quicker (the access time), equipment that used to require large hard drives (with moving parts) can now be replaced with much smaller memory / storage options.

3. Not only can you store more data on smaller devices but the actual cost of storage has been decreasing over recent years (usually referred to as the cost per byte or the cost per Gigabyte, for example). This has meant that it is now possible to include large amounts of storage on new pieces of equipment. In the past, portable storage might have been necessary, or only a very limited amount was provided.

4. Solid state storage devices (ones with no moving parts) get their power from the device they are plugged into. They don't have their own batteries. The amount of power that these devices need has been steadily decreasing in recent years. Because they are not such a drain on a piece of equipment's power, they can now be used in a greater variety of devices.

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