Digital Storage Projections For 2017, Part 2

Our last 2017 projection piece talked about developments in solid-state storage in 2016 and projections for 2017. Let’s look at other storage technologies in common use and talk about where they have gone in 2016 and plans for 2017. These storage technologies include hard disk drives, optical discs and magnetic tape. HDDs are becoming repositories for larger less frequently accessed data. This is due to their increasing storage capacity and lower cost per TB than technologies such as SSDs. The figure below compares the historical and projected raw storage costs for SSDs, HDDs and a data point for the LTO magnetic tape format. HDDs (particularly 3.5-inch HDDs) have maintained about a 10X difference in raw storage costs compared to SSDs and in 2016 the media cost of storage for LTO tape was available for about a penny per GB. Chart from Coughlin Associates, 2016 The figure below shows our estimates of the average $/GB for HDD and the annual shipped capacity. Except for the total shipped capacity decline in 2015 the annual shipped HDD storage capacity has been growing, even though the total shipped HDD units has declined since 2014. Western Digital’s HGST division recently announced a He-filled HDD with 12 TB storage capacity that will be available in early 2017 with a 14 TB HDD using Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) expected later in the year. SSDs have been announced with storage capacities up to 60 TB but at a much higher unit cost and cost/GB. It appears that the introduction of heat assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) is now pushed out to at least 2018, although engineering samples will likely be available to OEMs in 2017. In order to continue needed storage capacity increases technologies such as HAMR will be needed for HDDs to remain competitive and lower cost […]


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