Hard disk drive demand rebound holds opportunities for platinum – council

10th May 2024

By: Tasneem Bulbulia

Senior Contributing Editor Online


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The market for hard disk drives (HDDs) is showing signs of a rebound after almost two years of decline, as the rapid growth in machine learning and AI are driving the need for expanded data storage, industry organisation the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC) points out, also highlighting the relevance of this for the platinum industry.

According to Forbes, total HDD unit shipments in the last quarter of 2023 were up just under 1%, marking a turnaround in HDD demand, which had been in quarterly decline since the first quarter of 2022, the council says. 

It adds that HDDs have been losing market share to solid state drives (SSDs), especially in consumer applications such as personal computers and gaming consoles, for many years.

HDDs are data storage devices comprised of magnetic platters coated with a platinum alloy media to improve thermal and magnetic stability, whereas SSDs use memory chips to store data, typically using a flash memory, the WPIC explains.

“Superior speed and increasing cost competitiveness with HDDs are two of the key drivers behind the growth in SSD adoption. However, HDDs are still lower cost than SSDs on a per gigabyte basis, meaning it remains the preferred option for organisations needing to store vast quantities of data.

“What is more, HDDs are benefiting from the introduction of heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology, an innovation that is improving storage, or ‘areal’ density and so growing storage capacity without increasing HDD size or creating additional power requirements,” the council outlines.

It highlights that the latter two features are of particular interest to the data centre segment which is deploying a broad range of solutions to better manage energy efficiency and storage capacity to reduce its carbon footprint.

The council points out that, concurrently, cloud computing, AI and machine learning are leading to rapidly growing demand for data storage capacity.

It cites estimates showing that between 2024 and 2025, 30 zettabytes – a trillion gigabytes – of data will be generated, while only two zettabytes of storage capacity will be manufactured.

Earlier this year, mass-capacity data storage solutions Seagate launched a new HAMR HDD equipped with a pioneering ‘superlattice’ platinum-alloy media, which is posited to considerably enhance disk performance, providing over 3 TB of storage density per platter and enabling its Seagate ‘Exos’ 30 TB hard drive, the council enthuses.

The hard drive areal density improvements achieved will enable its customers to store more data within the same footprint, economically and efficiently expanding the installed capacity of hard drive-based mass storage facilities, especially data centres, the council avers.

Meanwhile, computer drive manufacturer and data storage company Western Digital is also pushing 30 TB territory, with its new generation of drives built with technology specifically designed for data centre customers who are looking for the highest capacity storage to help them achieve the lowest possible total cost of ownership, the council informs.

It notes that Western Digital’s high-capacity 28 TB and 24 TB HDDs are built with 40% (by weight) recycled content and are about 10% more energy efficient per terabyte compared with its earlier generation products. 

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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