USB 3.0 and Flash Drives

Today, I remembered some ill-fated folder-based scheme I had made when I was 14 or so. I made a bunch of folders, named through 0-9, and then copied those into themselves five levels deep. I also put a little “this is a dead end” word document at the end of each of those. In the end, it took up a couple hundred megabytes and slowed the system down, so my older brother deleted it. It’s kind of embarrassing, because I could have used .txt files to make them smaller, and the entire thing was a bit cumbersome and didn’t quite work the way I wanted it to.

Anyway, I thought about the final size of that, today, and and realized that we were working from an 8GB hard disk. When I’m managing my files on my 8GB flash drive, today, I’m actually working with the same amount of space — more, because I don’t have an operating system on there to worry about. It puts things into perspective.

Also, I want one of these. An external USB/e-SATA SSD. 32GB is only $156, and it would allow me transfer speeds of 90MB/50MB, which is on par with a hard-drive. I could literally put a copy of windows on there, along with all the things I need to work, and then carry it around with me. Just attach it to someone’s computer, boot into my hard-drive instead of theirs, and away I go!
My current USB flash drive works at about 16MB/s read and 8MB/s write. The maximum for USB is about 30MB/s. The theoretical maximum is a lot higher, but it’s unlikely we’ll anything more than low 30s.

USB 3.0 is coming out very soon (the technology should be seen later this year, with widespread support sometime in 2011). This would allow devices to reach at least four hundred megabytes per second, which would mean you could run a hard-drive straight from USB.
By that time, though, SSDs will be about $1/GB, and would run at least twice as fast as a hard-drive. You could replace your hard-drive for only a few hundred dollars (or maybe just a hundred, for something like 128GB).
We’ll see what the future has in store.

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