The end of spinning disks (part 2)

Maybe you found the previous article a bit hypothetical and is not substantiated by facts but merely some guestimations?

To put some beef into the equation I'll try to substantiate it with some simple calculations. Read on.

As shown in Cornell Uni's report the expected amount of data generated will reach 1700 exabytes in 2011 with an additional 2500 in 2012. 1700 exabytes equates to 1 trillion, 700 billiard gigabytes in EU notation (say what...., look here)

So number-wise it looks like this: 1.700.000.000.000 GB

The average capacity of a disk drive in 2011 is around 1400 GB (the average of enterprise drives with high RPM of 600GB + the largest capacity wise commercially available for enterprise environments HDD of 2TB).In consumer land WD has a 6TB drive but these will not become mainstream until the end of 2011 or beginning 2012 . Maybe storage vendors will use the 3 and 4 TB versions but I do not have visibility of that currently.

1700EB / 1400GB = disk drives are needed to store this amount of information. (Ohh, in 2012 we need 1.785.714.286 units :-))

This leads us to have a look at production capabilities and HD vendors. Currently there are two major vendors in the HDD market. Seagate (which shipped 50 million HDD in FQ3 2011) and WD shipping 49 million. (Seagate acquired HGST and WD is talking to the HDD division of Samsung) Those 4 companies combined have a production capacity of around 150 million diskdrives per quarter. This means on an annual basis a shortage of : - 600.000.000 = 614.285.714 HDD's
So who says the HDD business isn't a healthy one? 🙂

OK, I agree, not everything is stored on HDD and the offload to secondary media like DVD,BlueRay,tape etc will cut a significant piece out of this pie however the instantiation of new data will primarily be done on HDD's. Adoption of newer, larger capacity HDD is restricted for enterprise use because the access density is getting too high which equates to higher latency and lower performance which is not acceptable in these kind of environments.

This means new techniques will need to be adopted in all areas. From a performance perspective a lot can be gained with SSD's (Solid State Drives) which have extremely good read performance but still lack somewhat in write performance as well as long term reliability. I'm sure over time this will be resolved. SSD will however not fill the capacity gap needed to accommodate the data growth.

As mentioned before my view is that this gap can and will be filled by advanced 3D optical media which provides new levels of capacity, performance, reliability and cost savings.

I'm open for constructive comments.


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About Erwin van Londen

Master Technical Analyst at Hitachi Data Systems
Storage Networking , , ,