Disk drive price falls in $/GB terms are continuing at a slower rate than before but are set to reach one US cent per GB, according to Backblaze.
This is shown in a blog by Andy Klein, an evangelist at Backblaze with the very modern title of Principle Storage Cloud Storyteller.
He says Backblaze was buying hard disk drives (HDDs) at more than $0.11 per GB in 2009 when it launched. By 2017 that had fallen to just under $0.03/GP with 8TB drives, and this year it is at $0.014/GB with 16TB drives. To date, Backblaze has bought around 265,300 HDDs. The vendor says it pays more than the lowest street price to get assured delivery times for the large numbers of drives required for its cloud storage business.
Klein has charted the declines by HDD capacity point since 2009:
The overall downward trend has been interrupted several times. His chart shows 2TB drives costing more than 1.5TB drives for several months in 2009-2010. The same happened with 4TB and 3TB drives in late 2011 and 2012-2013, also with 6TB and 4TB drives in 2014-2015. Backblaze paid more for 8TB drives in 2016 than both 6TB and 4TB drives.
The 2011-2013 price discontinuity “was due primarily to the Thailand drive crisis which began in the second half of 2011 and continued to affect the market into 2013 before things got back to normal,” said Klein.
He says there has been an 87.4 percent $/GB decrease since 2009, from $0.114 to just over $0.014.
HDD prices for Backblaze decreased 9 percent per year from 2017 to November 2022 taking into account the four drive sizes it bought – 8TB, 12TB, 14TB and 16TB – and he has charted these specific declines:
The total $/GB decline over this period is 56.36 percent. This chart and the preceding one shows that the steepness of the price decline curve is lessening.
Typically a new drive capacity point costs more per GB at the start of a purchase run than the preceding drive’s capacity point at that time. The chart shows this with the 12 to 14TB transition and the 14 to 16TB transition. Klein also noted: “The cost per gigabyte of a drive will fall on average about 0.5 percent per month over time, slowly at first, then accelerating for some period before bottoming out. In nearly every case, the cost per gigabyte of each new drive size introduced will eventually fall below that of its predecessor.”
He said he thinks “the next milestone we can see is $0.01 per gigabyte for a hard drive” as a stable street price, and suggested: “Let’s go out on a limb and say that we will reach that in mid-2025 with 22TB or 24TB drives. That would mean you could buy a 22TB drive at Costco or on Amazon for about $220, or a 24TB for $240.”
Klein doesn’t know how low the $/GB number can go. If HDD manufacturers can continue adding capacity per drive and, if the technology needed does not cost more per GB than the technology it displaces, then price declines per GB could continue for several years more.