Samsung Shows Off Flash-Based Laptop 'Disk Drive'
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
One thing you will not hear about the latest development in personal computers is a computer.
There's no familiar whirring sound of a hard drive on Samsung Electronics' new laptop prototype, because the computer does not have a hard drive. Instead, the computer stores all its computer files on what's called a flash memory chip, which is silent. It holds 32 gigabytes of information. For those of you keeping score at home, that's enough for 20 movies, or 680 hours of music.
Joining us for a peek at the silent future is New York Times technology columnist David Pogue.
David, welcome once again.
Mr. DAVID POGUE (Technology Columnist, The New York Times): Thank you so much.
INSKEEP: That's a lot of memory, but not as much as you'd get in a hard drive. So why would people switch over?
Mr. POGUE: Eliminating the hard drive, I mean, the hard drive is the only moving part in your computer. They crash. They go bad. You lose your data. If you replace that thing with a piece of memory, no moving parts, it'll start up your laptop instantly, it'll go 12 hours on a battery charge, because you don't have to fire up a mechanical device, and really, really fast. And it's really quiet.
INSKEEP: And does this mean that computers can also get even smaller?
Mr. POGUE: Absolutely. You can eliminate one giant component inside that box. Smaller, lighter, much more desirable.
INSKEEP: Some people, I suppose, may already be familiar with these little things, because they're those little keychain flash drives you can use to pull memory out of one computer and carry it over in a little chip and stick it in another computer, right?
Mr. POGUE: That's right. They're a fantastic replacement for, you know, CD's, or zip disks, and things like that. Trouble is they only go to capacities of a gigabyte or two. With this new 32-gigabyte flash chip, the future really opens up. You could carry around so much of your life on that thing.
In fact, there's a company called U3 that's developed one of these flash drives that lets you actually carry around all your programs with you. So you just stick this thing in any computer anywhere you go, and your whole world is there.
INSKEEP: And what happens when you lose it?
Mr. POGUE: Yeah! You cry! I think maybe they should adopt a technology like the iPod would have, in which the flash drive is just a copy of what's on your main computer. That way, if you lose the thing, you still cry, because they'll be very expensive at these high capacities, at least at first, but at least you won't have your life ruined by losing all your data.
INSKEEP: Do flashcards crash?
Mr. POGUE: They don't crash, but it is possible for something to go wrong, for the data to become corrupted, and that is one of the downsides. You're much less likely to have good odds of recovering some of it than you would if it were a hard drive.
INSKEEP: Now, we mentioned that this flash drive is on a prototype of one company's computer. Is this the future for everybody?
Mr. POGUE: I think it's going to take a long time before we get to the stage where people will tolerate the high costs of these flash drives enough to replace the hard drives. Maybe ten years. But I do believe, in the end, considering how fragile, noisy, and power hungry hard drives are, I do believe that memory is the answer.
INSKEEP: David Pogue, technology columnist for the New York Times. Thanks very much.
Mr. POGUE: My pleasure.
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