HDDs will go the way of the dodo before the decade is over, predicts a top exec at Pure Storage. a flash, software, and cloud storage company. Shawn Rosemarin is the VP of R&D within the Customer Engineering unit at Pure, and in discussion with Blocks & Files he predicted that “no more hard disk drives will be sold after 2028.” This controversial prediction from Pure, a flash-centric storage tech company, might be little more than wishful thinking, but warrants a closer look at issues which might shorten the lifespan of HDD technology.
A crushing pincer movement will assault the current position of HDD technology in the storage industry, implies Rosemarin. On one side of the pincer, he sees electricity costs and availability squeezing the popularity, and even viability, of HDDs. The other is formed by the continued reduction in the cost per TB of flash storage.
While PC gamers and enthusiasts might be flocking to SSDs for their performance, cost metrics like TCO (total cost of ownership) are more keenly watched by businesses. “It’s just fundamentally coming down to the cost of electricity,” Rosemarin said to Blocks & Files, emphasizing that running costs, as part of TCO, will mean HDDs fall out of favor.
Providing some more details about business and enterprise power use – and the resulting bills – Rosemarin trotted out some interesting statistics. Apparently, about 3% of the world’s power consumption is due to data center operations. “Roughly a third of that is storage,” asserted the Pure exec. “Almost all of that is spinning disk.” Rosemarin went on to claim that replacing HDDs with SSDs could “reduce the power consumption by 80 or 90%.”
It isn’t only the cost of power that is important. The Pure exec noted that some countries are setting quotas for power usage, meaning less efficient projects may not get planning or other necessary permissions to operate.
One further benefit of the move to flash that is important to businesses, is the increased density flash technology offers. In the coming years, flash storage density is going to continue to significantly improve, as evidenced by NAND maker roadmaps.
HDD Business Doldrums
Earlier this year we reported on HDD shipment numbers almost halving, and more recently some separate independent research suggested HDD sales were down by over a third year-on-year. These are pretty dreadful figures for those in the HDD production business, but for the business to trend down to zero by 2028 would be extraordinary. Blocks & Files says that it has seen no hyperscale data center businesses signal a move from HDD to flash, a movement which may mark the beginning of the end for HDDs. So, for now, Pure’s projections appear to be an act of willing its dreams into reality.
Consumers looking at storage cost per TB and a balance between high capacity and perky performance will probably be sticking with hybrid setups for a while, mixing SSDs and HDDs for their relative strengths. However, the nostalgia for mechanical HDD noise has already begun, with projects like the HDD Clicker ready to punctuate your quiet computing with a variety of clicks, ticks and whirs.
"Blocks & Files says that it has seen no hyperscale data center businesses signal a move from HDD to flash"
So they predict, that in the next 5 years, the entire storage industry is going to completely switch over their hardware?
Buddy, I work for the government and our servers are running on software from the 90s. Do you really think we are anywhere near a hardware switch?
I doubt we will see the majority of data centers on flash by the end of the decade, let alone sales stopping completely.
That's not even a joke. You could fit like 4TB on a cassette tape with modern tech. Just nobody is doing it outside of expensive server-class stuff.
And HDDs will retain data, in cold storage, for at least 5 years. Modern, datacenter SSDs probably couldn't even manage 1 year. The spec sheet on an Intel DC drive I got off ebay says only < 90 days, but I know that's a conservative estimate.