High Performance Disk Market in Trouble, Refocus on Capacity – Breaking Analysis

According to TechReport.com, research firm IHS iSuppli has projected that HDD (hard disk drive) revenues will fall to $32.7 billion in 2013 after topping $37.1 billion in 2012. Wikibon Co-Founder and CTO David Floyer had this to say about the predictions:

“I’ve been going against the trend and forecasting significant decline in the PC market, decline in the number of chips that are being pushed out into PCs, decline in the number of PCs that are going to be sold. And this matches up with what I’ve been forecasting in terms of disk drives.”

Floyer described a mixed market of the consumer side where flash is becoming the predominant usage. He said the switch to flash is now starting to take its toll on the disk market, particularly the high performance end of the market. However, he noted that the capacity end of the market is still in very good shape.

Floyer observed that drives are migrating from their previous focus on performance and refocusing on capacity. One of the new products he was impressed with is the helium-filled drive coming out from Western Digital this year.

Seagate introduced a flash cache as part of the drive, which is being called a hybrid disk drive. Floyer described it as a major push to try and marry flash with the disk drive itself. “The trouble with putting a small amount of flash in front of a disk drive is that when you’re lucky, it works,” he explained, “but what happens is that it actually makes the experience for the end user more variable . . . it’s sometimes fast, it’s sometimes slow.” He said this increase in variance is a reason why flash today is the major design point of the storage.

Floyer also gave some insight of his own research on hybrid disk arrays. He advised users and CIOs that disk drives are really a last resort now. “Active data should be held in flash whenever possible,” he stated. He elaborated on how this will give the user the best experience possible.  See the entire segment with Kristin Feledy and David Floyer on the Morning NewsDesk Show.