Taking disk drives for a spin?

7 December 2005

Seagate auto hard diskSlightly yawn-inducing industry site Telematics Update has a neat little potted story about whether cars should contain hard disks or use solid-state Flash components to store the increasing amounts of user data that they are likely to handle in the future – mostly in-car-entertainment related but also for telematics and control applications.

The report centres on the fact that Samsung thinks Flash is best, whereas Seagate thinks hard disks [PDF] are preferable. Which is a bit like letting Mazda and BMW hold forth on what car is best for wind-in-the-hair motoring.

Both Flash and hard drives have their ups and downs. Flash can only be rewritten a certain number of times before it degrades – so is not well suited to a 20-year duty cycle of overwriting (assuming auto makers still build for lifecycles that long). Hard drives are less shock resistant, and may have trouble coping in collisions – when you might actually want them to store black-box data, say.

What car makers ought to do more, of course, is provide slots – plural - capable of accepting the media of the day, allowing the car’s capacity to be expanded as demands increase. Offering USB 2.0 and SecureDigital slots would seem like a good starting point for the current generation of vehicles.

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