Toshiba: What is the future of hard drives?

Secondo Toshiba gli hard disk avranno ancora vita lunga thumbnail

With competitive pricing, high performance, low power consumption and maximum reliability, HDDs will continue to be a relevant storage technology for specific applications in the future. Or at least that’s what Toshiba claims.

Toshiba: “Hard drives won’t go out soon”

The rise of flash memory seemed to have marked the beginning of the decline of hard disk drives (HDDs). Even more so if we consider the amount of devices that today integrate solid state drives (SSDs) and flash modules. But second Toshiba it will not be so: the Japanese giant claims that hard disk extinction is still a long way off. The rapid advancement of digitization translates into the processing of large amounts of data. These require more and more storage space, and HDDs are the ideal support for some specific applications. For example, they are useful for network-attached storage (NAS) and video surveillance systems, corporate data centers and cloud providers.

The 4 reasons given by Toshiba

According to Toshiba Electronics Europe, there are 4 fundamental reasons that explain why hard drives will not die out but on the contrary they will continue to be relevant.

  • HDDs are distinguished by price and availability: SSDs currently cost 6 times more than hard drives. This explains why the latter are so widespread in datacenters. Furthermore, the constant technological innovation allows the storage capacity of about 2TB per year, keeping the price unchanged. Even if SSDs could compete in price, they would not be able to outperform HDDs anytime soon. The productive force is still too low. In fact, investments of several hundred billion dollars would be required to set up new production facilities and expand existing ones.

    The growing number of connected devices, smart devices and new IoT sensors is causing a real explosion of data. In fact, worldwide growth is expected from 45 zettabytes in 2019 to 175 zettabytes in 2025. These data clearly demonstrate that storage via SSD is not convenient. The throughput of storage devices needs to be increased. This process is much faster for HDDs, as less clean room production is required than for flash semiconductors.

  • Performance is a team effort: if speed, compactness and robustness make SSDs the ideal storage medium for end devices, in datacenters, on the other hand, the performance of individual drives is not important because multiple media are installed within the same system working together. In addition, hard drive manufacturers have further improved sequential performance and random access through their firmware optimization. Today, depending on the model, enterprise hard drives reach more than 400 IOPS and cannot be compared with SSDs. A storage system with several dozen HDDs in a RAID 10 guarantees over 10,000 IOPS. This makes it competitive with flash memory based solutions. At the same time, it provides significantly more storage capacity.
  • The false myth of energy consumption: contrary to popular belief, the new helium hard drives are characterized by low energy consumption. Features that differentiate them from high-capacity SSDs which, due to the high cooling requirements, record significantly higher consumption.
  • Reliability: moving parts HDDs today reach MTTF (Mean Time To Failure) levels comparable to SSDs. However, unlike the latter, they are not subject to restrictions on the amount of which can be written during their life cycle. As a result, hard drives respond to current and future needs. So most of the data stored in data centers and in the cloud will be stored on HDDs. This trend is also confirmed by the forecasts of researchers and market analysts. For example, according to IDC by 2025, more than 80 percent of cloud, core and edge data center capacity will be on hard drives. Less than 20% on SSDs and other storage media connected via NVMe.
  • “While we are seeing the disappearance of hard drives from many devices, it does not mean the end of this storage medium. In fact, people and devices today produce so much data, and will continue to do so in the future, that storage technologies are needed to control the flow, “he said. Rainer W. Kaese, Senior Manager, HDD Business Development, Toshiba Electronics Europe.“In 2020, HDDs equal to a combined total capacity greater than one zettobyte were released on the market for the first time. This is 13% more than in the first year. This further supports the theory that hard drives are a technology that is destined to stay with us for a long time to come ”.