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2013-07-19 13:17:50

Why data storage technology is pretty much PERFECT

Reliable data storage is central to IT and therefore to modern life. We take it for granted, but what lies beneath? Digital video guru and IT author John Watkinson gets into the details of how it works together and serves us today, as well as what might happen in the future. Brain cells at the ready? This is gonna hurt.

Digital computers work on binary because the minimal number of states 0 and 1 are easiest to tell apart when represented by two different voltages.

In a flash memory, we can store those voltages directly using a clump of carefully insulated electrons. But in all other storage devices, physical analogs are needed.

In tape or hard disk, for example, we look at the direction of magnetisation, N-S or S-N, in a small area. In an optical disc, the difference is represented by the presence or absence of a small pit.

The very blueprint of our biology, DNA, is a data recording based on chemicals that exist in discrete states. "Bit" errors cause mutations that allow evolution, or result in the missing or malformed proteins, which lead to disease. Data recording is essential to all life.

A binary medium neither knows nor cares what the data represents. Once we can reliably record binary data then we can record audio, video, still pictures, text, CAD files and computer programs on the same medium and we can copy them without loss.

The only difference between these types of data is that some need to be reproduced with a specific time base.

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