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Data Storage Market Gaining Momentum

Fusion IO StorageThe demand for data storage at both the personal and the enterprise level continues to increase. For consumers, devices such as cellular phones, iPads, MP3 players, digital cameras and the latest netbook computers are requiring larger memory capacity and faster access times

Corporations are accumulating more data through financial records, presentations, emails and electronic filings. Individuals and all sizes of businesses are looking to cloud-based storage where information is held at a secure off-site location with massive memory banks. Bringing all this together is the internet with its vast amount of web-pages, video files and other content (see related story on Limits In Data Storage )

Personal devices use Flash or Solid Sate Drive (SSD) technologies. Flash is preferred due to its small size, ability to retain data when powered off and most importantly for its speed and low power consumption.

The drawback is that Flash is relatively expensive, about 5 to 10 times more than magnetic storage hard disk drives (HDD) and a limit to about 512GB in a handheld device. Also with personal devices, we are constantly moving them, bumping them, and sometimes dropping them, so Flash technology with no moving parts provides a definite advantage over other solutions.

For price comparison, a 1TB HDD is less than $50 while a 512GB USB Flash Drive is around $150. That’s about a 6x delta between magnetic and solid state memory.

At the other end of the data storage spectrum are the data centers with thousands of gigabytes of capacity. Google and Amazon are just the two largest providers of cloud or on-line storage. For these giants, the low power feature of Flash is a key advantage since power usage translates into heat created.

The less heat generated by the storage, the less electricity they need to spend on keeping everything cool. User satisfaction is another driving factor in the choice for Flash since these devices serve up data fast which means quicker search times on Google, faster loading of results on Amazon and near-real-time playback of your music from iCloud and iTunes

Looking to capitalize on this demand for data storage are companies such as International Business Machines (IBM), LSI Logic and EMC . IBM recently announced the acquisition of privately held Texas Memory Systems . LSI last year purchased SanForce and EMC made a deal for XtremIO .

Other companies are being funded to create new techniques for implementing massive data storage and retrieval. Violin Memory has raised nearly $200 Million in 2012 for their server and enterprise level storage systems. Venture capitalists contributed almost $100 Million to Pure Storage
for their technology that shrinks the files before storage to reduce the amount of Flash required.

Chip makers such as Fusion-io , which is valued at $2.5 Billion in its recent public offering, and Spansion provide the building block Flash components that enable this technology.

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