IDC Warns Disk-Makers As 1TB Notebook HDD Debuts

IDC Tells HDD makers to change track to flourish as Samsung launches the first terabyte laptop hard disk

Industry researcher IDC has published a report that suggests the hard drive industry should re-evaluate its priorities if it is going to hang tough against the powerful onslaught of solid-state drives in consumer and enterprise markets.

IDC projects that HDD industry revenue potentially can grow from $33.4 billion in 2010 to $48.2 billion in 2015, but that some things will have to change for that to happen.

A Shift In Priorities

“The HDD industry needs to shift its R&D priorities, giving more attention to developing faster HDD performance for PC markets while simultaneously delivering HDD capacity advancements,” John Rydning, IDC research director for Disk Storage Mechanisms, wrote in the report.

“At the same time, HDD vendors have an opportunity to transform into storage solution providers with a broad range of products that address the needs of both consumers and small businesses.”

HDD makers certainly are not slacking off in R&D by any means; after all, HDDs remain the industry standard storage media and are expected to remain so for years to come. Industry leaders, such as WD, Seagate and Samsung, continue to spend millions of dollars in research and regularly turn out more capacious disks every few months.

Samsung Setting The Pace

In fact, Samsung has just delivered a terabyte drive, the Spinpoint M8. The drive contains two 500GB platters in a 9.5mm-height form factor that will fit a high number of portable computers.

The SpinPoint M8, with its high-performance 3Gbits per second SATA interface, has fewer platters and heads to give a seven percent increase in operation speeds and an eight percent decline in power demand, the company said.

Samsung said the high density on each platter was achieved with advanced format technology (AFT), which raises the data storage density per unit area. The Spinpoint M8 is available worldwide for $129.

The report is not so much a warning to the HDD industry as it is an advisory to vendors, as well as to IT managers, Wall Street analysts and industry media types.

“It [the report] is really communicating to people outside the industry who are writing off the HDD industry for dead, and I don’t think that’s the case at all,” Rydning told eWEEK.

“They kind of look at the HDD industry as hapless victims, with a future that is completely out of their control as they become victims to iPad-type tech devices. No way that’s true. There’s a very large supply chain that still exists; there are some really big opportunities that exist for the drive industry, which still has a really solid future.”

Solid State Of The Art

Rydning also wrote that hybrid combinations of spinning disks and SSDs may be the best long-term product for spinning disk makers.

Other key findings in the research include:

  • With or without industry consolidation, HDD average selling price (ASP) declines will slow near term as HDD technology advancements are slowing, making it more difficult for HDD vendors to reduce HDD bill of material costs.
  • Long term, the HDD industry has an opportunity to increase HDD ASPs with hybrid NAND and rotating disk storage devices aimed at the PC market.

The personal storage market continues to be one of the strongest growth segments for the HDD industry.