Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) are getting ever cheaper and with more and more storage, but it seems the manufacturers see the end of the road arriving sooner rather than later with increasingly present spectre of solid state drives (SSDs). To demonstrate how difficult a space in which to innovate or generate decent profit margins, the main HDD manufacturers have been consolidating recently with Hitachi selling it’s HDD business to Western Digital last month, and Samsung selling its HDD business to Seagate today, leaving us with just three, the other being Toshiba.
HDDs have been around for over half a century now, and yes we have gone from a few bytes to 3TB drives, and their reliability has improved to such an extent that many people have never experienced disk failures, and they provide storage for the vast majority of the internet’s millions of servers. However, their mechanical construction leaves them vulnerable to shocks and corruption when dropped, meaning the growth products of recent years (portable media players, smartphones, and tablets) have all moved to SSDs.
The price of SSDs is also dramatically dropping as the markets of scale come into play with a with a 128GB SSD for £150. That still may be expensive when compared to traditional 2.5″ mobile HDDs where a 500GB drive would only set you back £50, but most people simply do not fill a 100GB hard drive – and if the SSD can offer better performance (read/write) and better reliability, then the two technologies are starting to compete in the general consumer and business marketplace. Prices for HDDs of 500GB or less have also most likely reached their lowest price, with the margins on £50 already wafer thin but the price of SSDs will continue to fall for the foreseeable future as they slowly gain market share.