F Special: The Flash-Back

By : |March 31, 2012 0
INDIA: The king had achieved a great feat by undergoing a strenuous fast and rigorous meditation in worship of the Almighty. God was pleased. He invited the king to the heaven and offered to bless him with a special servant of ultra-human powers.
“Choose your superhero, Thy King! You have earned yourself a superpower.”
The king kowtowed in gratitude and even at that overwhelming emotional moment, his mind rummaged for the perfect task relevant to the reward. He knew the answer in two minutes.

“Dear Almighty, I have a big and complex armory that I cannot carry around all the time. I would appreciate having someone’s services to fetch me the right weapons and ammunition as and when I need them at those precise moments in the battlefield. Who do you suggest would be apt?”
God mulled over the problem and offered. “Why, you can do very well with the Iron Man. He has the power and the might to carry insurmountable weights with utter ease.”
The king shifted his gaze to the hallowed row of superheroes standing ahead. He was about to accost Iron Man when The Spiderman stepped up. “Choose me Oh invincible Emperor. You do not want to lose a war if you have conquered every gory battlefield so far. You do not need a weight-lifter. You need someone who can crawl under and above intricate crevices of your secret armor vaults as well as the unwieldy battle topography of inhospitable hills, treacherous mountains and lofty forts.”
That made sense. Times were changing, the king thought to himself. Wars had started being fought with more tactical measures then just metallic might.
“I agree with you. Speed is the new Trojan horse nowadays.” The king reflected decisively.
“Oh, but if that’s the case, why the Spiderman. Pick me. I can surely travel faster than him, at the speed of winds to be precise. I don’t crawl, I fly.” Said the Superman.
But even before the offended Spiderman had a chance to climb back to his edge, the Batman tutted. “I guess you are missing the point Mr. Emperor, Whatever. I have the real power. I have Robin. The back up, in case any mishap happens. He will cushion any hit that could sabotage your position, specially at that acute hour of war.”

With every passing moment, the King’s confusion snowballed. This game of one-uppance was not helping his otherwise swift decision-making engines at all. 
Scale or power or speed or back up? He just couldn’t decide.
At this moment, as if reading his thoughts metaphysically, Optimus spoke out aloud. “Why does it have to be ‘or’? Why not have everything together. The real performance machine. I have all the iron you could dream of, but also the quick ability to turn them into wheels. I can carry weights, I can drive at whirlwind levels and I can also decide when and how much to provision to my various parts. I may not have supernatural vaporware, because I guess strong and practical preternatural stuff does the trick.”
The spiel had almost caught the King in a conclusive blow when someone else piped in.
A bespectacled boy, with a weird owl on his shoulders, and looking out of place with his apparent innocent demeanor in this queue of tough heroes. That, and more, until he spoke though. “You guys are still old fashioned for the future if I may sum up. You have to still travel physically from one place to another, no matter at what optimum speed you can or with how much back up you can or with how much drilling machines you can, even with how much weight you can.”
“What do you mean young wizard?” An unenviable Optimus asked.
“Sorry to sound a bit arrogant. I don’t mean to. But you still work on wires. The king needs someone who can deliver even when the power is off. More than that. I travel with a swipe of my wand. It sounds surreal. That means I can be from one place to another in a flash. Not by physical routine, but in one swipe motion. That makes me the real advantage.”
“But you are so young yet?” A curious Batman and Robin echoed together.
“I may be still young, but I am the future.” The wizard shrugged off.

The king needed time to decide if this was indeed worth betting his choice of what he would invest in.
He is not alone in this dilemma.

{#PageBreak#}

Young but futuristic is the way change is flashing by in other parts of universe and heavens too.
Flash is claiming to be more than the new kid around the block, when it comes to the computing kingdoms too.
Slowly, but steadily, a new form of storage and memory computing is usurping some superheroes’ chairs from various quarters. It first attacked the terrain of mobile, gaming, notebooks; LAN switches, digital systems, and device levels, but has recently started eyeing the valleys of the enterprise.
For the uninitiated, it is a special type of memory that is constantly powered and gets its name because the units of memory here can be erased and rewired in a single flash motion. The memory cells on a microchip can swiped in a flash, and hence the name, probably.
It is a new entrant in the land of its electromechanical cousins. It is not volatile. That gives it the advantage of being able to withstand physical shocks, may be earthquakes, besides the ability to deliver better access time and sort out the latency issues. 
HDD or Hard Disk Drive level technology was not able to preempt these powers as their speeds could not match those of server processing levels. Being electro physical, one can only rotate at so much speed and have only so much I/0 rates. That is not bad, given the constant improvements and breakthroughs that HDD space keeps having, but it is certainly a sit-up-and-take-notice news when a new technology can help you with applications that have quintessentially a heavier load of both data and users, with typical enterprise level requirements.
The advantage of not requiring batteries to maintain the data in the memory was always there but it took some time for flash to get a foot in the HDD doors. Gradually, but irreversibly, SSDs  (Solid State Drives) have successfully replaced HDDs on a couple of fronts – in military and aerospace industries, and others where  mission-critical applications are a norm, along with the onerous demands of withstanding extreme shock, vibration and temperature ranges.
So Flash is clearly nibbling away at the edges of earlier storage heroes, but does it displace HDD already?
As a seasoned analyst from Forrester enlightens, flash architectures are proliferating throughout IT- in disk arrays, in dedicated flash arrays, as cache layers within storage systems and on the server side.
Andrew Reichman adds that he expects to see flash as a significant disruptor in the storage space. “I don’t predict it to displace disk, but rather change how disk is used. High performance (15 K or 10 K RPM) drives are likely to go away, and data that is performance sensitive will be served from flash, while high density (two to three TB and beyond) will remain important for the huge quantities of data that are infrequently accessed and less performance sensitive.”
Driven by ongoing advances in semiconductor fabrication technology, server processors’ demands for consuming data continue to outpace the advances in electromechanical storage devices, opines Richard Partridge, VP and Senior Analyst, Enterprise Servers, Ideas International
 As his assessment reveals, similar to the benefits of a well designed cache/memory hierarchy, the optimal use of SSDs balances access and latency advantages against the tradeoffs of cost and capacity. 
“Just as cache/memory implementations have evolved over the years, so too the best deployment of SSDs will evolve as the technology matures.”
The Iron Man seems to be losing it out to the new generation of superheroes.
Even as we dissect the real strength muscles of Flash, numerous surveys reinforce the optimism around the advent of flash technology. According to a recent survey carried out by data recovery company Kroll Ontrack, more than 90 per cent of respondents perceive SSD/Flash failure rates to be minimal and the technology to be reliable.
Andrew Reichman separates the wheat from the chaff, “While it’s clear that IT will consume flash in significant quantities, the optimal architecture is still emerging. Flash remains much more expensive than spinning disk, so deploying it efficiently and where it is needed most is critical for its effective use.”
His prognosis has already found a reverberation.

Hot-from-the-oven media reports tell us that there is a rival for Flash breathing its first, and christened as 3D memory chips.
Researchers at Rice University have created new 3D memory chips that are transparent. Reports also point that these chips are flexible enough to be folded like a sheet of paper, and capable of withstanding 1,000-degree Fahrenheit temperatures, besides being cheap and with easy fabrication qualities.
Touted as remarkable and an replacement for existing flash technology, 3D could be one to watch for its own defence, while Flash may build up new offence attacks on the thrones of data and storage industry.
Note what James M. Tour stated at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, as he unveiled this new species on the evolution curve of storage technologies: “These new memory chips have numerous advantages over the chips today that are workhorses for data storage in hundreds of millions of flash, or thumb drives, smart phones, computers and other products. Flash has about another six ors even years in which it can be built smaller, but then developers hit fundamental barriers.”
So even before the wizard had a chance to whistle to his owl for a new journey with the king, another contender perplexed the King. The Hollow Man. His words were not hollow though “I am invisible, I am transparent, I can fit into anything.”
The king finally sighed despairingly and requested God to allow him some time to think over.
“I will come back with my choice in a few days.” He bowed to leave, but turned back after a few steps.
“Can I have one hero for my beloved Queen too?”
The Almighty nodded with a generous smile.
“Thank you. You see she needs more than those petite girls to escort her with her big silk duffel bag. It would be great if someone could carry it for her and pull out the right thing within a second, as and when she wishes. Shouldn’t be a problem, as my wife will surely not carry iron blocks. Just the usual female appurtenances, that’s all.” The king explained.
Alas, he did not have much company in sharing this confidence. Before he could finish his sentence, all the heroes vanished.
There are still some jobs that even superheroes dread.

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