The coolness of tiny USB flash drives

So, following on from last week’s post about amateur radio operating, I was in Maplins drooling over all the shiny electronic things. I was initially interested in the different gear that they had available for radio operating (They didn’t have much, some hand held walkie-talkies, and CB radios, but lots of cables and electronics tools).

I then got distracted by other bits. Most notably a flash drive.

A really, really tiny one.

Here it is, next to a Warhammer Dwarf for scale reference:

Dwarf next to a tiny flash drive.

Dwarf next to a tiny flash drive.

What, you don’t know how big a Dwarf is? Ok.  Here is a Dwarf next to a £0.01 coin:

dwarf-and-coin

Huh. You know it would be much easier to reference the coin next to the drive. Here we go:

coin-and-drive

I got the 16gb version. Just take a look at that picture again. 16gb of storage is hiding in that tiny, tiny box.

I mean, I was quite excited by the micro SD card, but my 2gb card is almost as big as this flash drive, and only 1/8th the capacity.  I am aware that you can buy much larger cards that 2gb but this is a new thing to me.

Just think of the possibilities for hiding data / getting it lost.

Also, if they can build information storage that small, I wonder how much could be stored if they use the same information density, but scaled up to the size of one of the early USB flash drives:

The gargantuan device on the left is the first flash drive I ever bought.  Can't remember exactly when, possibly about 2002?  It was a whopping 512mb.  That's right: megabytes...

The gargantuan device on the left is the first flash drive I ever bought. Can’t remember exactly when, possibly about 2002? It was a whopping 512mb.

I also have a 320gb external hard drive, but it is a lot bigger. Given that tiny 32gb drives are available, this drive is much more than 10 times the size. Where does all the rest of the space go?

Practical limits of storage media

Jokes aside, science is slowly pushing data storage to its limits. We are effectively limited by the laws of physics as to how big / small the size of data storage can be.

There is only so much data that atoms can be persuaded to store before quantum physics says no.

Also, the actual size of the drive itself is a thing to think about. I think this drive is physically as small as it is possible to get a USB drive. Not because of the physics, but because any smaller, and it wouldn’t be able to fit in the USB slot, or be taken out again.

So, in conclusion:

I went to an electronics shop to look over radio equipment and bought a flash drive.

I do give myself bonus points for not buying a graphics card, Settlers 7 the game, soldering tools, and any number of other things in the shop.

So, anyway.

Hey, where’d my flash drive go?

coin

Oh right, it’s under that penny:

flash-drive-under-coin

Phew, crisis averted.

Have fun, and if you buy a flash drive that small, make sure that you put it somewhere safe.

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