Hard drive shipments nearly halved in 2022

AlphaX

Posts: 68   +16
Staff
Why it matters: A recent report from Trendfocus shows SSD sales continue to rise dramatically, while HDD manufacturers are noticing record-breaking declines in overall shipments. Analysts estimate that shipments declined by more than 40 percent compared to 2021.

For decades, HDDs were consumers' go-to choice for PC storage. Hard disk drives offered an excellent balance of high capacity at lower costs. However, HDDs have begun to be outclassed by solid-state drives (SSDs), which generally provide better performance at a higher price. Despite this (or perhaps because of it), HDDs still held a higher market share for years due to the significantly better cost per GB and larger storage capacities.

However, this changed for the first time in 2020, when SSDs outsold HDDs. A leading factor in this shift in sales likely rests on SSD prices finally becoming manageable for even the most budget-minded PC users. Surprisingly, Statista noted in September that HDD shipment levels went nearly unchanged in 2021, falling by only 0.5%. Unfortunately for manufacturers, this stagnation didn't last long.

The latest report from Trendfocus analysts covers the quarterly and yearly changes for the three largest HDD manufacturers --Seagate, Toshiba, and Western Digital Corp. (WDC). The results provided in the analysis don't bode well for those producers.

The three leading manufacturers noticed a steep drop in 2022. Seagate took the most brutal hit, with estimates ranging between -41.7 and -43.7 percent in HDD sales. Western Digital dipped nearly as much, falling 40.7 to 43 percent. Toshiba faired the best but still saw losses of 37.7 and 39.3 percent.

Oddly enough, despite the sharp decline in shipments, 2.5" HDDs still "rebounded" by nearly 15 percent quarter-for-quarter. However, these were the only drives that saw an increase in sales. Consumer drives declined by mid-single-digit percentages, which, while not promising, is still a far cry from what occurred in the enterprise industry.

Sales of enterprise-focused drives tanked due to "falling cloud demand" within businesses. Trendfocus points out that Seagate, Toshiba, and WDC sold an estimated 11.5–12.5 million enterprise drives combined, which sounds like a large number. However, it still resulted in a 25-percent decline in quarter-to-quarter shipments.

Overall, there appears to be no end to the decline in HDD sales. Solid-state drive prices are quickly falling to near HDD levels, with 500 GB SSDs even reaching price parity with 500 GB HDDs. There's reason to believe this parity will spread to SSDs above 500 GB by the end of 2023, which could spell disaster for HDD manufacturers.

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tellmewhy

Posts: 230   +127
Why don't they put multiple heads per disk to reduce the search latency?

Now hard disks have a column of read and write heads, one for each platter.

Why don't they put four columns (instead of just one) for a total of four heads per platter to reduce the latency to 1/4? Are these heads that difficult to produce in quantity or the software for the driver is too complicated with too many heads? Because the main advantage of ssds is the low latency...
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,978   +6,442
Why don't they put multiple heads per disk to reduce the search latency?

Now hard disks have a column of read and write heads, one for each platter.

Why don't they put four columns (instead of just one) for a total of four heads per platter to reduce the latency to 1/4? Are these heads that difficult to produce in quantity or the software for the driver is too complicated with too many heads? Because the main advantage of ssds is the low latency...
I'm just spit balling here, but I'd assume more moving parts means more points for failure. Frankly, pairing a cache drive with some HDDs is a fantastic solution but my home network is limited to 1gigabit currently so I can't even saturate the read or write speeds on the HDDs in my NAS.
 
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Kashim

Posts: 206   +261
Why don't they put multiple heads per disk to reduce the search latency?

Now hard disks have a column of read and write heads, one for each platter.
They've been working on this tech for a while. It's not as easy and simple as putting some extra hardware in there though, so it may be a while before it's widely adopted by manufacturers. Seagate for example released their 2nd generation dual actuator drives near the end of last year. You can read about it here: https://www.tomshardware.com/news/seagate-launches-2nd-gen-dual-actuator-hdds-18-tb
 

tellmewhy

Posts: 230   +127
They've been working on this tech for a while. It's not as easy and simple as putting some extra hardware in there though, so it may be a while before it's widely adopted by manufacturers. Seagate for example released their 2nd generation dual actuator drives near the end of last year. You can read about it here: https://www.tomshardware.com/news/seagate-launches-2nd-gen-dual-actuator-hdds-18-tb
Well, what they have implemented there is not really what I proposed.

They still keep the head count the same and just move the top half of the head set independently of the bottom half of the head set. That way they get more utilization of the heads when the hard drive is full. It's a small baby step, but the hard drive still only has one column of the same number of heads.

What I'm saying is put x4 more heads (4 columns of heads not just 1) at 90 degrees each.

To make the difference in performance more apparent I will use the example of engines in cars. The difference in performance with x4 would be like going from a 3 cylinder engine to a v12 cylinder engine. What they have applied in the link is the equivalent of going from a 3-cylinder engine with homogeneous fuel injection to an also 3-cylinder engine but with stratified (direct) fuel injection. Okay it's a little more efficient but not something with an impressive difference.

Unless there is a substantial difficulty there is no reason not to do it, the heads in terms of material costs are zero cost (metal plates of a few grams and a grain of silicon) and the research costs to develop them have already been paid off.
 

emmzo

Posts: 813   +1,251
Once SSDs get cheaper per Gb, they will steamroll them. I gave up HDDs a few years ago and I don't miss em.
 
According to my opinion, most of the laptops launched in today's market use SSD hard drives, and due to WFH culture many companies prefer giving their employees a laptop and not a desktop so the sale of HDD hard drives is decreasing day by day

P.S.: most people are depending on CLOUD storage now because there is a high chance of data corruption on a hard drive.
 

Hotlynx16

Posts: 72   +21
According to my opinion, most of the laptops launched in today's market use SSD hard drives, and due to WFH culture many companies prefer giving their employees a laptop and not a desktop so the sale of HDD hard drives is decreasing day by day

P.S.: most people are depending on CLOUD storage now because there is a high chance of data corruption on a hard drive.
Yes, the multi-billion dollar company I retired from started putting laptops in the cubicles back in 2017, that was so they could bring them to meetings to access data!
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 3,363   +4,363
Hard drives will always have a place but their speed limitations make them no longer useful as system or gaming drives. Where hard drives will excel is in bulk storage for media and backed up data. Modern NVMe SSDs are faster than the fastest RAID configurations, use less power and are physically tiny in comparison.

Hard drives have been a bottleneck for a long time but SSDs weren't mature enough tech at the time to be viable (aka affordable) yet for the consumer market. I threw a $20 128GB Lexar 2.5" SATA SSD into my mom's computer (FX-8350) and wow, what a difference it made. I think that running Windows 10 on a hard drive is now the course of action for masochists everywhere. :laughing: