Sustained disk drive industry growth alert

Contrary to some analysts’ expectations, the hard disk drive (HDD) industry is now moving to a period of sustained year-on-year capacity, units and revenue growth.

That’s the view of Wells Fargo analyst Aaron Rakers, and he bases it on a historical view of disk drive industry revenues, units and capacity shipped since the first quarter of 2005.

The chart shows a trend of falling units shipped and quarterly revenues since 2012/2013. Shipped capacity has increased at a steady and growing clip though, with an acceleration starting in 2020 — probably an indirect result of the pandemic.

Rakers thinks that second-quarter 2021 disk units, capacity shipped and revenue numbers were all so strong that the HDD industry is now set for growth in all three measures

His Q2 calendar 2021 numbers:

  • There were ~67.6 million total HDDs shipped in 2Q21, up from 64.2 million and 58.8 million in the prior and year ago quarters, respectively.
  • There was ~351.4 exabytes of total shipped capacity, up 45 per cent year-on-year and 22 per cent quarter-on-quarter.
  • HDD industry revenue grew to ~$6.2 billion in 2Q21, up more than 20 per cent year-on-year and 18 per cent quarter-on-quarter.
  • Total HDD industry revenues were up six per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2021. 

If Rakers is right, then the Wikibon forecast that SSDs will replace HDDs is wrong — at least in the short term.