This is how 32 terabytes of storage looks like today

Intel this week showed the P4500 in their own words the most compact SSD drive in the world. The disk with a storage capacity of 32 terabytes is about the size of an old-fashioned ruler of 30 centimeters long, almost 4 centimeters wide and not even an inch thick. If you think about it for a moment, it is crazy. For the oldies among us: 32 terabytes equals 186 and a half million floppy disks.

Anyway, that comparison becomes more insane with the year, so let’s look mainly at what we have today to get so much storage in such a small space. The answer is of course internet servers. Data centers are jumping for more storage that is less hot and consumes less electricity. These ‘data bars’ are ideal for this, because they are custom-made to fit 32 in a standardized server slot at the same time. Then you have a petabyte (1,000,000,000,000 bytes or 1,000 terabytes) of storage with a full server. Holy shit.

Not the smallest, but the most practical

For the record: the smallest (or compactest) hard drive in the world was not made by Intel but at the  TU Delft Nethrlands. It works with individual atoms to store data but has a practical problem: the disk only works in a vacuum environment with a temperature of -200 degrees. Not exactly datacenter-proof.

These hard disks are not for sale to consumers: the production of these disks is far too expensive. You also do not want to know what these things cost per piece by the way. However, we will benefit from it. Datacenters with this storage only need 10 percent of the power they used to consume, less than half of the cooling is needed to keep them at temperature and in the end they naturally run on all those cloud servers that we all use, so that the services of Microsoft, Tencent and IBM (the first group of buyers) will only become faster.