HDD Shipments Plummet 33% YoY on Weakening Demand

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Following a historic 33% decline in shipments year over year (YoY), the HDD market in 2Q 2022 seems to be on the verge of an apocalypse - or at least standing at the doors to purgatory. As reported by Storage Newsletter, weakening demand on the client side prompted this faltering shipment situation for one of the longest-lived storage mediums. Density increase achievements aren't enough to buoy this particular market.

HDD shipments across the various market segments (client and enterprise) only totaled 45 million units - a far cry from the 2010 peak of 651 million units (an average of 162 million units per quarter).

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2Q22 Worldwide HDD Shipments by Manufacturer
VendorHDDs shipped (million units)Q/Q change (%)YoY change (%)Market Share
Seagate19.8 - 20.6 -10,4% / -13.8-26.9% / -29.7%44.3% - 44.7%
Toshiba8 - 8.6 -14.3% / -20.2%-38.5% / -42.8%18.5% - 18.1%
WDC16.5 - 17.3-12.4% / -16.5%-31.4% / -34.6%37.2 %
Total 44.30 - 46.50-11.9% / -16.0%-31.0% / -34.2%Row 4 - Cell 4

Enterprise HDDs remained relatively flat, with a slight reduction in demand compared to the same period last year. But that's a market that's been consistently growing for years and which is sure to remain growing as Cloud and High Performance Computing) environments require cheap, low-power, high-density storage that can cope with the increased digitization of our lives and scientific achievements.

The biggest change was in the 2.5" form-factor, which saw a staggering 40% drop quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) to around 11 million units. The drop is explained by weak retail shipments and a softening mobility market that has largely shifted to flash-based storage solutions.

The second highest loss in the HDD market is in the Desktop/Consumer Electronics segment, where shipments fell by over 30% to 17 million units. Particular demand weakness was seen in the surveillance, PC and retail sectors. This demand reduction relates not only to macroeconomics; there are more important things to spend one's money on when inflation is at 8.6% in the US alone. But it also stems from the demand decrease in the PC space, whose shipments should reach a yearly decrease of 8.2% compared to 2021. We should also note that storage-based cryptocurrency Chia launched around March of last year, prompting a spike in demand for HDDs throughout Q2. There's no data on how exactly this impacted overall HDD shipments, so it's hard to gauge how responsible (at all) it is for increasing the YoY delta.

"SSDs killed the HDD star" is another likely element, as price reduction for SSDs is certainly increasing their value proposition for system integrators and consumers. NAND manufacturers dropped wafer prices for TLC and QLC NAND by 8~13% in Q2 2022, and a further 5~10% reduction is expected for Q3. With lowered SSD pricing and quality of life improvements compared to HDDs with their winding, spinning platters and lesser durability, the value proposition for the consumer side is jumbled even further.

Francisco Pires
Freelance News Writer

Francisco Pires is a freelance news writer for Tom's Hardware with a soft side for quantum computing.

  • spongiemaster
    Not really surprising that mobile hard drive sale plummeted. You really have to look to find a laptop these days with a traditional hard drive.

    Not sure how this article was written without mentioning Chia coin was launched in March of last year which caused an unnatural surge in demand. It took a few months for the market to recover from that.
  • AgentBirdnest
    Uhhh... what? The title and opening paragraph say -45%, followed by a chart and a source that say -31% to -34%.

    The rumors in your headlines are greatly exaggerated.
  • jonathan1683
    those surveillance drives are too expensive I need two, but I keep putting it off :\
  • AgentBirdnest
    Francisco Alexandre Pires said:
    You're absolutely correct. I mistook the volume of units shipped (~45M) with a percentage. This wasn't meant to manipulate data and make the story more clickable. It's an honest mistake, and has been reported for correction. Thank you for the heads-up!
    I figured that was the case. I didn't mean to imply shadiness with my "greatly exaggerated" comment; I was just trying to playfully flip the subhead around. :p
    Thanks for the correction!
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    Aside from prosumers and professionals, those people who need terrabytes of storage for their work, and gamers, who may prefer to keep their games library installed, in 2022 consumers don't exactly need terrabytes of storage to carry about their physical media library on their device, that's what an NAS or personal cloud device is for, and those drives are designed for longevity. Aside from that, there are services like Google One which gives 2TB cloud storage for $100/year, among other benefits, and Microsoft 365 which gives 1TB of cloud storage and the entire Office suite for $70 a year or 6x1TB for $100 a year (sadly not 6TB shared, stupid Microsoft), and this is in addition to services like Amazon Photos which give unlimited free storage for photos, all of which have become much more accessible with the spread of inexpensive unlimited cell data plans and high speed WiFi.

    So yeah, affordable 1-2TB SSDs may have helped to kill the HDD, but streaming services have done even more.
  • Kamen Rider Blade
    It also doesn't help that many HDD's of the higher capacity have a high financial barrier to entry.

    $300-600 might not seem like much to Enthusiasts, Prosumers, or Professionals.

    But to the average consumer, that's ALOT of $$$.

    2.5" HDD's need to be updated to be cheaper and have the latest platter density installed to scale with expected demand of High Capacity at a cheap cost along with a compact form factor.

    Consumer HDD's should start with 2.5" HDD's.
    Enthusiast, Prosumer, Professionals, & Enterprise should focus on higher capacity 3.5" HDD's and start with capacities that 2.5" HDD's can't support with their existing platter size based on the thickness of the 2.5" HDD solution.

    Also we need to get Multi-Actuator HDD's to become common.

    The amount of Linear R/W speed gain you can get from it is worth the effort.

    Especially given how QLC, PLC, and higher bit density flash drives has Linear R/W speeds that are matching or worse than existing HDD7200 RPM HDD's in certain cases.

    We need HDD to improve their Linear R/W performance without having to spin the Platter more since we can get more performance out of the drive.

    If that means the multi-actuator drives need internal RAID 0 of some form, so be it.
  • Like many people out there I don’t think I’ll ever buy another hard drive again so yes demand is falling and it will continue to fall
  • Kamen Rider Blade
    Mandark said:
    Like many people out there I don’t think I’ll ever buy another hard drive again so yes demand is falling and it will continue to fall
    Why not?

    If the cost per GB/TB is cheaper than a SSD by a significant margin, wouldn't you want to put your data on a HDD?
  • Jimbojan
    So why are chip makers like AMD, NVDA or Intel share price went up 10% last week (7/15/2022)? That was because some joker analysts' comments to raise their target price. Was not that a scam?
  • twotwotwo
    I wonder at what point the economics get weird for continuing to make lower-capacity 2.5" models at all.

    3.5" will have the server market keeping it alive a long time, and e.g. sub-$100 4TB drives are not a huge niche but seem safe for a while (nobody's close to having a $90 4TB SSD). But e.g. 1TB and smaller HDDs have closer competition from both Flash and larger HDDs.

    Maybe it's cheap to produce weird models in relatively small numbers a long time, or enterprisey users demand exact replacements for the model they got X years ago. But it's imaginable some of these models are getting close to being retro tech.