Skip to content

The era of rotating optical drives ending?

Way back in the dimdarks, software was distributed on floppy disks. That worked because most applications only needed a megabyte or two for the complete installable package. Systems pushed this a bit. Slackware and OS/2, for instance, often needed ten or twenty floppies. That is why the CD became a media of choice for systems and software in the mid 90’s. Ubuntu still uses the capacity of a CD as a goal for its distributions even though Microsoft is using DVD’s for its latest systems.

Chris Pirillo wonders Are Optical Drives Obsolete? and takes a look at game consoles for example. His focus is on digital download services but there is another component to the demise of optical drives. That is the ubiquitous USB memory,

Movies also provide a case in point. Blue Ray for HD content can provide 50 GB or so compared to DVD’s 5 GB and these are still the most common media for distribution of visual media content. But Netflix and Amazon both provide online access to much of this same content. Users are learning to rip their physical media and put their entire libraries on magnetic media – hard drives.

Backup is another example. Tape used to be the only way to get 100 MB filed conveniently. Now, a 2 TB USB drive can be had for less than the price of the tape drive not even considering inflation and there is no media expense. The USB memory is also a convenient and inexpensive backup media if you only need a few GB.

This even shows up in the BIOS ROM on new motherboards. Some even have basic systems in ROM for doing common tasks such as playing media files or even browsing the I’net.

Of course, this is causing problems, too. The high speed I’net connections being used for massive amounts of data transfer put quite a burden on the network. That is causing problems in that old billing paradigms don’t work so well. Trying to find a new way to stay in business yet accommodate the changing needs of network traffic such as online backups or movie downloads is creating some friction. That gets into the ‘net neutrality’ debate where some folks seem to think that being able to have infinite bandwidth with no limitations available everywhere is a right.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.