With a steady decline in hard drive shipments, is the storage device on the verge of becoming obsolete?


A recent report from Storage Newsletter discusses the drop in hard drive shipments during the second quarter of this year, showing a consistent market decline of 33% year over year. The suggested reason for the drop in numbers is the lack of consistent customer demand, which may not be as surprising as it sounds.

Hard drive shipments are falling 33% annually due to weaker demand, raising the question of how long hard drives can survive

In the last quarter, HDD shipments in the home and business market only reached 45 million units. For comparison, in 2010 hard drives peaked at 651 million units, or 162 million on average in each quarter of that year.

Tom’s gear notes that the enterprise market has been steadily growing with the need for HPC, and that cloud-based environments are low cost, low power consumption, and offer the largest storage sizes compared to SSDs. Additionally, hard drives have become more and more of a requirement with the growth of scientific advancements and the more necessary needs for consumers to depend on the digital space. Currently, demand for professional hard drives is relatively stagnant, with a minimal drop in order compared to 2021.

Global hard drive shipments by manufacturers in the second quarter. Source: Tom’s Material

In the recent report, 2.5-inch hard drives fell 40% over multiple quarters, amassing just 11 million units shipped. The drop in shipments is due to the switch to “flash-based” storage options.

Consumer and office electronics recorded the second largest drop, with a thirty percent loss quarter over quarter to just 17 million units shipped. Lack of demand for retail, PCs and even surveillance usage was the main cause, with inflation above 8.6% being the other cause. It is assumed that the Chia cryptocurrency, which uses storage to mine the currency, causes an increase in demand. Still, with the cryptocurrency’s decline alone, it’s hard to know if this specific cause had a significant effect.

Price reductions on SSDs have also made consumers and businesses look into the next-generation storage option over HDDs. Wafer costs for QLC and TLC NAND declined by up to 13% in the last quarter, with a forecast of 10% in Q3 2022.

It’s only a matter of time before HDDs are replaced by SSDs in the consumer and professional markets until a new, more capable storage solution emerges in the tech sectors.

News sources: Storage Newsletter, To me


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