Evolution of Hard Disk Drives: From Megabytes to Terabytes

hard disk drive market

Hard disk drive or HDD is used in several consumer electronics like laptops, personal computers, and others for data storage purposes.  It uses magnetic storage to store and retrieve digital data and is also known as an electro-mechanical data storage device. This storage device has one or more platters coated with magnetic material and is rapidly rotating. The hard disk drive can read and write data on the magnetic platter surface. The data stored in the hard disk drive is accessed randomly, which means individual data blocks can be accessed and stored in any order.

Global Production Trends

The production of HDDs is growing with the rise in demand for consumer electronics and the increase in penetration of electronic devices. These electronic devices are becoming more important in the consumer’s daily life and these devices require storage services to store consumer’s important data. This is achieved by the use of HDDs as secondary storage in these devices.

In recent years, there has been a notable increase in the production of HDDs in emerging economies due to technological advancements in consumer electronics. They have a diverse set of applications in several consumer electronics and can cater to all their needs. With the rise in production of these consumer electronics in developing economies and the rising global population, the demand for HDDs is anticipated to grow significantly.

As HDD magnetic storage device has so many applications in several consumer electronics, the demand for them has seen rapid growth. For instance, various emerging economies are taking initiatives to produce these consumer electronics on their own by boosting their manufacturing hubs. They will have to be less reliable on exports that will directly boost the overall production growth of HDDs around the globe. The Make in India initiative by the Indian government is an example of increasing manufacturing hubs in India.

Hard Disk Drives use case

The HDDS has several use cases that are boosting their production and market around the globe. These use cases include consumer electronics for secondary storage, the growing use of smartphones in the daily life of consumers is increasing global data and the need for data storage, and the introduction of 5G technology with increased speed and low latency has increased the demand for data storage services. The growing amount of data centers around the globe are also contributing to the growing demand for data storage, and this is anticipated to fuel demand for HDDs production.

The growth in data centers is important in fueling the demand for HDDs. These data centers are being widely adopted by several enterprises for storage of enterprise data, data recovery, data management, and backing up that data.  For instance, Microsoft announced its plan to establish a new data center in Hyderabad, India, in October 2022. This was one of the world’s largest cloud infrastructures. This data center’s focus is on providing excellent data management services for various government agencies, start-ups, education institutions, corporations, and developers all around the globe.

Furthermore, data centers around the globe in several major countries are being built with the growing need for data storage. These data storage needs will be matched by the growing production of HDDs. For instance, in the year 2021, there were 8000 data centers globally from which the USA had 33% of total global centers, the UK had 5.7%, and Germany had 5.5% of total global centers.

Figure 1:  Percentage Share of Major Countries of Total Global Data Centers in the Year 2021

percentage share of major countries

Source: usitc.gov

Market Dynamics and Drivers

Several factors drive the hard disk drive or HDD market, including a rise in the application of HDDs in recent consumer electronics. This, coupled with the rise in demand for storage devices with the growing amount of global data, has contributed significantly to boosting the overall hard disk drive market. Additionally, with the rapid growth in data storage technology and the popularity of data centers, the need for HDDs or hard disk drives is rising proportionally.

HDDs provide storage services using magnetic storage to store and retrieve data at the consumer’s convenience. Using HDDs as secondary storage in consumer electronics benefits overall production growth, with the rise in the popularity of smartphone devices. Therefore, with a rise in demand for these consumer electronics products, the hard disk drive market is anticipated to grow.

The development and innovation in communication technology across the tech industry is one of the growth factors in the HDDs market. The introduction of 5G technology has significantly grown the amount of global data with its fast speed and reduced latency which in turn is driving the demand for more efficient and fast data storage. The global adoption of 5G technology in mobile services is positively impacting the market and therefore, the HDDs market is anticipated to grow in the forecast period.

For instance, in the USA, a large portion of the total population owns a smartphone. The growing population is raising the demand for smartphones, which in turn is anticipated to boost the market for HDDs as storage services. The percentage of adults in the USA who say they own a smartphone has grown from 85% in 2021 to 90% in 2023.

Figure 2:  Percentage Growth of Adults in the USA Who Own a Smartphone

percentage growth of adults

Source: pewresearch.org

Market Constraints

Despite the huge advantages and use cases of HDDs, the companies that manufacture them face a lot of challenges, with significant improvements being made in storage services and keeping up with that improving technology. Although data centers around the globe that use HDDs have experienced rapid growth, these data centers require a lot of power consumption and are not energy efficient. Therefore, this advancement in storage technology and high-power consumption is predicted to hinder market growth over the forecast period.

Emerging Opportunities and Innovations

Despite the challenges, the hard disk drive market presents numerous opportunities for innovation and growth. Advances in its applications across various industries are the major reason for that. Also, the demand for network-attached storage HDDs is growing significantly and positively affects the HDD market growth. These network-attached storage services allow several users and clients of an enterprise to store and retrieve data from a centralized data storage location. This makes data management efficient and fast for data retrieval and storage.

Key Developments

  • In January 2024, Seagate announced the breakthrough in their Mozaic 3+ hard drive platform, which can provide unparalleled areal densities of 3 TB plus per platter.
  • In November 2023, Western Digital announced that it began shipping large volumes of the 24TB CMR HDD as the widespread new applications, use cases, and connected devices multiply across the industry.
  • In September 2023, Toshiba Electronics Devices and Storage Corporation announced the launch of a 22TB MG10F series hard disk drive. It delivers 10% more capacity than Toshiba’s prior generation 20TB model.

In conclusion, the hard disk drive market presents significant opportunities for growth and innovation, driven by the increasing popularity of consumer electronics and applications across various industries like growing data centers and network-attached storage HDDs. While facing challenges such as increasing advancements in storage services technologies and huge power consumption of data centers for storage and management of data, the industry is poised to capitalize on technological advancements and innovations to meet the needs of a growing global demand for hard disk drives.