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Demand for storage space is increasing rapidly and suppliers of hard disk drives, solid-state drives and other technologies can hardly keep up because of the economic conditions worldwide. As a result of certain market trends, the popularity of single-platter or dual-platter hard drives for consumers will get higher, whereas average capacities of HDDs will likely slowdown the growth, according to Seagate's chief executive officer.

The demand for hard disk drive (HDD) storage was 400 exabytes (exabyte = one million terabytes) in 2011 and that number will increase towards one zettabyte sometime in 2015-2016 timeframe and then to seven zettabytes by 2020. Steven Luczo, chief exec of Seagate, claims that storage demand growth right now is over 50% in the cloud, whereas in other businesses it is 25%, which results in around 40% overall every year. Meanwhile, areal density growth is right now under 25%, which means that more drives need to be made to meet the demand for storage.

Since one single hard disk drive contains over 200 individual components, which manufacturing is constrained by production capacities (which expansion is constrained by investments). As a result, hard drive makers will use additional heads, ramps and other components on hard drives aimed at cloud datacenters while attempting to reduce the amount of components on client HDDs, which will inevitably slowdown capacity growth for them.

"It probably plays out that on the client you start by going to more a single disk solution. [...] So you probably start seeing a reduction in heads and disks for clients, but then you start seeing an increase for cloud," said Steven Luczo in an interview with Forbes.

A good news is that sometimes in 2016 - 2017 timeframe hard drive and platter makers will start to use heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), which will enable much higher areal densities and increments in capacities of hard disk drives. Still, the head of Seagate believes that ultimately more heads, more discs will be needed to solve the zettabytes problem. As a result, more investments are needed in the hard disk drives industry.

"When you look out at 2016-2017, then you have a next generation technology called HAMR – heat-assisted magnetic recording – which accelerates the areal density [...] growth rates back in the 40%-50% range. [...] But my point is, I think you are in a perpetual shortage. So the only way you can solve the whole exabyte storage is with more heads and disks, which means you’ve got to put more capital to work, and no one is doing that," stressed Mr. Luczo.

Tags: Seagate, HDD, HAMR, Business


Comments currently: 5
Discussion started: 04/19/12 01:17:47 PM
Latest comment: 04/22/12 03:58:21 PM
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I have this distinct feeling there's more than just hard drive platters that are spinning at Seagate lately. The line between enterprise and consumer grade is murky at best when you have both types of customers with the need for both kinds of products. The rest is just semantics (who is who) and pointless rhetorics (who needs what). Don't worry mr. Luczo, technology is way ahead of you. As are our needs for larger and faster storage solutions. Not necessarily in a single product, mind you. The demand will drive the supply, as has always, and I have no doubt 4K videos and high resolution displays will do the trick just fine. No need to spin much anything then but your softly padded executive chair and enjoy the ride
6 0 [Posted by: MyK  | Date: 04/19/12 01:17:47 PM]

Comsidering most people have boughten way more storage than they need over the past five years, I would expect sales to plateau somewhat, especially with desktop PC sales slowing.
2 4 [Posted by: beenthere  | Date: 04/19/12 06:55:38 PM]
- collapse thread

I don't know why you'd think we need less storage space than we used to? Are you thinking of consumers and enterprises delegating this obvious need for more and more storage space to cloud based storage solutions? Because that does pretty much nothing regarding the need for higher density hard drives and other non-volatile memory products, it just shifts the ownership of the infrastructure being used and the responsibility for it from individuals to corporations hosting such solutions. Not to mention there's even more infrastructure involved, so not much is gained from this standpoint, possibly quite the opposite. Cloud based storage can implement certain techniques of collating duplicated materials and shave some of the storage needs off individual servers (provided they can bypass obvious legal obstacles), then again more serious solutions will no doubt be using load-balanced fail-proof servers that themselves introduce a lot of duplication on their own. At the same time, vain as we might be, we'll keep on having needs for more personal storage that we also own and have immediate access to without the need to rely on third party contractors. There's an endless list of reasons why we'll need more and more storage, 4K videos being just an example. In reality, I can't think of a single consumer device type that isn't gradually increasing this need with every new generation. Besides, this argument isn't what this news article was all about. Frankly, I don't even know what it was all about considering there's been quite many such "news" from Seagate lately. Could it be their chief executive is going through a mid-life crisis and has a growing need for more exposure even at a cost of being self-conflicting? It's about the third such article that I've read in the last few weeks, all coming from mr. Luczo, that made me wonder what the point of it was. My previous comment was just an observation that he might need to relax more, take his kids out for an ice cream and kiss his wife more frequently. That on its own would create more pleasant memories and, in turn, the need to store snapshots of it permanently. If I was him, I know that's what I would do. Have one 3TB drive for "kids growing up", another for "my dear Alice",... then strive to fill them up until you have a need for 5TB drives. Set aside one 1.44MB floppy disk for storing shareholders' nagging and that's it - problem solved! You get my point
0 0 [Posted by: MyK  | Date: 04/20/12 10:27:22 AM]

As much of some of us need the extra storage the new recording tech that being heat-assisted magnetic recording will more than likely make data recovery much more difficult and expensive. :s
Last thing one needs is one of these drives to kick the bucket with important data.
3 0 [Posted by: nforce4max  | Date: 04/22/12 07:52:47 AM]
- collapse thread

That's why you need to plan for fail-over and redundancy when purchasing new drives. You can't really think of, say, a 3TB disk drive as having 3TB of usable space any more (not that you could at any point in time, mind you). If you plan wisely, maybe you can squeeze out of it around 80% with some redundancy (RAID 6, RAID 5 and alike, depending on the number of drives used in an array and the array type itself) at a cost of some processing power and performance loss upon rebuilding/rechecking arrays, or 50% of usable capacity using RAID 1 or RAID 10 with faster rebuilds/rechecks and less (near to none nowadays) processing power required, but for more sensitive data and more usable space you might want to be even more fail-proof and build RAID 50, RAID 60 array units where more than one unit can fail and you still not only can restore the array to its original state but also have access to your data even while restoring. Of course, you can always duplicate such units for even higher level of safety, failure-wise. RAIDs 0, 1, 10 and 5 are now all cost effective because of on-board SW RAIDs (Intel's bootable ICH based RAIDs work as good as any other SW RAIDs and are sufficiently reliable for personal/home use IMHO) and with the speeds modern CPUs reach you'll hardly notice any real-world difference when compared to costly dedicated RAID cards, especially when simple RAID 1 or RAID 10 are used (parity RAIDs 5, 6, 50, 60,... require parity calculation and produce more compute overhead in writes/rechecks/restores, though).

In short - You will only consider a 3TB drive as a 3TB worth of storage space if you don't have anything valuable to store on it. Even then - it won't last forever. Plan accordingly.
0 0 [Posted by: MyK  | Date: 04/22/12 03:58:21 PM]


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