Hard Drives Are Here to Stay for Data Centers: Report

by Adeel Younas
Hard Drives are Here to Stay

In the world of data storage, the debate over the supremacy of Solid State Drives versus traditional spinning Hard Disk Drives continues to gain momentum. While some have boldly proclaimed the imminent demise of HDDs, a recent forecast offers a different perspective. According to an analysis by Coughlin Associates, a notable firm specializing in storage industry insights, it appears that the reign of hard drives in data centers is far from over – at least until the year 2028.

Contrasting Views on the Future of Data Storage

Amidst the cacophony of opinions on the future of data storage, it’s essential to examine the facts objectively. Coughlin Associates’ forecast challenges the notion that SSDs will swiftly replace HDDs. This assertion contradicts a stance put forth by a flash-based data center company’s VP of Research and Development.

SSD and HDD Shipment

Credit: Blocks And Files

This executive argued that despite being a technology with a history spanning 67 years, HDDs still hold value, but it’s time to usher them into retirement. This perspective hinges on the idea of efficiency. Electricity costs potentially sealing the fate of HDDs, including advanced technologies like Seagate’s HAMR drives.

The Data-Driven Forecast

Coughlin Associates’ analysis delves into the intricate landscape of data storage. The report indicates that the recent surge in SSD shipments will not significantly impact the trajectory of hard drive shipments for several years to come.

This estimation is grounded in projections for SSDs, HDDs, and tape systems shipments spanning from August 2023 to 2028. Interestingly, the forecast anticipates an upward trend in hard drive shipments during this period, countering the notion of a plateau or decline.

Project of SSD

Credit: Blocks And Files

The report underscores the continuous growth in demand for storage capacity over the next five years. This escalation can be attributed to various factors, including the rapid expansion of Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, applications in media and entertainment, as well as the medical field.

The analysis, however, acknowledges that an unexpected economic downturn could potentially alter this trajectory. A visual representation of the projected storage demands reveals a steep incline for HDDs, SSDs, and tape systems.

The Path Ahead: Navigating Storage Expansion

To provide a tangible glimpse into the future, Coughlin Associates offers a numerical projection of expected storage capacity shipments by 2028. The numbers are striking – with an anticipated surge to 9,000 exabytes, a substantial leap from the 1,500 exabytes projected for 2023, as highlighted by insights from Tom’s Hardware.

It’s worth noting that this projection hinges on the anticipated revival of the nearline storage market either later this year or in 2024. Assuming this revival occurs, the forecast predicts a twofold increase in “head and media demand” by 2028.

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