Despite the predictions of some analysts that hard drives will soon sink into oblivion, giving up their place in the sun to solid state drives, the reality may turn out to be different. Most likely, SSD and HDD will sell well in the next few years.
The fact is that companies that are engaged in the development of artificial intelligence technologies, cloud services, etc., constantly need new storage systems. Accordingly, information storage devices are also sold, and demand is increasing every year. Details below.
What kind of forecast is this?
According to analysts from Coughlin Associates, in 2023 the decline in hard drive sales will end. Then a slow but steady growth will begin until 2028. It is also predicted that SSDs will also be sold along with tape drives. The latter have been used for a very long time, but are still popular. Clearly, not for ordinary users, but in companies that constantly need more and more new volumes for data storage.
And it is the digitalization of most industries, the rapid development of artificial intelligence, IoT and other technologies that will provoke an increase in sales of information storage devices.
The chart shows that analysts expect sales of HDDs of various form factors, both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch, to grow. Experts believe that capacious HDDs produced by manufacturing companies will be especially actively sold. Now there are disks 30 TBand more capacious models will probably go on sale in the near future.
All of them are needed to store data sets for AI training, medical archives, images on social networks and the like. SSDs don’t quite fit. First, really capacious models that companies could use are still expensive. In addition, the failure of the HDD can be predicted, with SSDs in this regard, everything is more difficult – they can simply stop working at one fine moment, and that’s it.
There is another opinion
It lies in the fact that hard drives will almost disappear from sales due to a loss of demand by 2028. True, this opinion was expressed by a party clearly interested in this – the manufacturer of corporate SSDs Pure Storage.
In early March 2023, the company released a 300TB SSD and almost immediately spoke about its vision for the future of the hard drive market. According to Pure Storage, drives will fall into disuse for various reasons, including the falling cost of SSDs and the low energy efficiency of HDDs.
According to the same expert, by 2028, the total cost of ownership of SSDs by corporations will be lower than that of hard drive arrays. We are talking, first of all, about SSD with QLC memory chips.
New HDD Models
More recently, Seagate announced the start of deliveries of hard drives with a capacity of 30 TB. At the moment, this is only the beginning, the main volume of deliveries is planned for the end of this year. The disks are designed using HAMR technology, which allows you to achieve a very large capacity.
The essence of the technology is local laser heating and magnetization reversal in the process of recording the surface of hard disk platters. The laser built into the head of the disc allows you to heat the surface of the plate up to 500 degrees Celsius. Accordingly, the desired area of the plate is magnetized even with a relatively weak magnet in order to record data. The developers of the technology report that neither the physical nor the chemical properties of the plate change. But the capacity – yes, it can be significantly increased, and after cooling the plate, the data is not lost, they can be read without problems.
At the moment, some of the released disks are already installed in the Exos Corvault storage system, which is also developed by Seagate. The 4U form factor rack accommodates 106 HDDs connected via the SAS interface.
But so far the HDD has problems
Or rather, not the disks themselves, but the market. For example, in the first quarter of 2023, hard drive sales shrunk compared to the same period in 2022 by 35%. In the first quarter, about 35 million HDDs were sold, which is the total figure for the three largest hard drive manufacturers – Seagate, Western Digital and Toshiba.
The situation is complicated both with the corporate and consumer segments of the market. The latter showed a 24% drop in sales for desktop HDDs and 33% for 2.5-inch drives. Here is the signwhich clearly shows the state of the market.
Number of units
Changes from year to year
15.00 — 15.50 million
-2.3% – -1%
-34.7% – -32.6%
44.8% – 44.4%
6.30 – 6.70 million
-21.4% – -16.5%
-37.2% – -33.2%
18.8% – 9.2%
12.20 — 12.70 million
-5.4% – -1.5%
-38.2% – -35.6%
36.4% – 36.4%
33.50 – 34.90 million
-7.6% – -3.8%
-36.5 – -33.9%
Some hard drive manufacturers believe that sales could increase, but this is probably just a desire of companies to show confidence in the future. Of course, HDDs will not disappear anywhere, because there are many industries where they are used. But SSDs, solid-state drives, are becoming more and more reliable, capacious and cheap. Over time, they capture an increasing share of the HDD market.
Be that as it may, hyperscalers are gradually increasing business activity, so hard drive manufacturers are hoping for a gradual increase in sales. As mentioned above, slow but sure. It remains to wait a few months, and then it will be seen which of the analysts is right and which is not.