The Story of How Turning Disk Into a Service Lead to a Deluge of Density

We usually think of the wonderful advantages of service oriented architectures as a software thing, but it also applies to hardware. In Security Now 385, that Doyen of Disk, Steve Gibson, tells the fascinating story (@ about 41:30) of how moving to a service oriented architecture in hard drives, modeling a drive as a linear stream of sectors, helped create the amazing high density disk drives we enjoy today.

When drives switched to use the IDE (integrated drive electronics) interface, the controller function moved into the drive instead of the computer. No longer were low level drive signals moved across cables and into the motherboard. Now we just ask the drive for the desired sector and the drive takes care of it.

This allowed manufacturers to do anything they wanted to behind the IDE interface. The drive stopped being dumb, it became smart, providing a sort of sector service. Density sky rocketed because there was no dependency on the computer. All the internals could completely change as needed to support higher and higher densities. Steve of course gives a detailed evolution of hard drive internals, but that's the gist of it.

Now have multi terabyte drives for next to nothing. Separate your concerns and good things can happen.

A cool and unexpected story. Thanks Steve.