HDD Industry Market and Forecasts 2021

Let’s take a look at 2021 HDD shipments and other metrics for 2021, based on data from Digital Storage Technology’s latest newsletter.

Total hard drive shipments in Q4 2021 decreased by 13.6% (57.3M vs 66.2M) compared to Q3 2021. Notebook HDD shipments are estimated to be down approximately 25% sequentially, while desktop HDD shipments are down approximately 32% in the second quarter. CE hard drive shipments declined about 1% in the second quarter, while branded product shipments declined about 3.3% in the second quarter. High-performance enterprise HDDs declined approximately 7.9%, while nearline enterprise HDDs declined 4.6% in the second quarter. It is estimated that 3.5-inch HDDs Q/Q were down about 13%. 2.5-inch HDDs declined 14.5% in the second quarter.

Here are the latest reports from Seagate and Western Digital for the 2021 C4Q. Seagate said they shipped 137.1 EB bulk capacity drives, with 111.0 EB in nearline HDDs. They shipped 26.1 EB to legacy HDDs. The average drive capacity of bulk capacity HDDs was 10.0 TB and the average drive capacity of legacy HDDs was 2.0 TB. Seagate’s total shipped capacity was 163.2 EB with an average capacity per drive of 5.7 TB. Seagate’s HDD revenue for the quarter was $2.822 million. The company is expanding its 20TB nearline HDDs. Some companies use SMR to achieve 22TB on these drives. Seagate also said their HAMR drives are still in customer qualification.

Speaking on Seagate’s results conference call, Dave Mosley said, “We have expanded our proven family of shared platform drives from 16 to 18 and now to 20 terabytes and beyond. We also meet the performance needs of cloud customers through our industry-leading dual-actuator technology.” And: “We currently expect revenue to grow 3% to 6% in calendar year 22, with continued growth beyond that, in In line with our long-term model range.”

Western Digital reported that total HDD EB shipments decreased 14% sequentially in the fourth quarter of 2021. They also said client compute units shipped were 6.7 million, consumer-supplied HDD units were 5.1 million, and data center (cloud) HDD units were 9.8 million. Western Digital said their ASP was $97 for the quarter (up from $102 in the previous quarter). Cloud storage accounted for 40% of Western Digital’s revenue for the quarter. WDC announced that it will begin shipping 20TB CMR HDDs based on its OptiNAND technology next quarter and that it is commercializing its power-assisted drives.

Note that both Seagate and WDC said they had supply chain issues that prevented them from shipping more products and getting more sales (this mostly affects the PC and systems companies).

There was a 0.6% decrease in Average Selling Price (ASPs) from C3Q 2021 to C4Q 2021. Multi-year ASP trends are shown in the figure below. Note that the drop in nearline drive shipments at WDC resulted in a slight drop in HDD ASPs. In general, the increase in the share of more expensive mass storage enterprise HDDs since 2015 has led to an HDD ASP as legacy applications (such as storage for PCs and high-performance enterprise HDDs) have lost ground to SSDs.

The table below shows the estimated drive numbers for 2021 by company and application. Total HDD shipments in 2021 fell about 2% from 2020, but that’s a smaller drop in annual unit shipments than in recent years. Note that the units are in millions.

The next table shows the estimated 2021 drive shipments by company and form factor.

The next table shows the estimated 2021 exabytes shipped by enterprise and broad application. Note that Toshiba and WDC did not release data on other storage devices after C1Q 2021, so this data is undervalued and will be included as nearline after C1Q.

The figure below shows the market share of the three HDD manufacturers in 2021 per unit.

The next figure shows high, medium and low estimates of the total power unit volume up to 2026.

The growth of capacity-oriented near-line drives for enterprise and hyperscale applications will lead to more components per drive by 2026, providing the biggest driver for heads and media. We expect total shipments of heads and media by 2022 to have surpassed the 2014 peak and could double today’s demand by 2026.

The figure below projects total annualized HDD storage capacity shipments to 2026.

The next figure shows the projected average $/GB for HDDs.

HDD shipments fell by almost 14% from C3Q to C4Q 2021, with HDD shipments falling by about 2% from 2020 to 2021. Supply chain issues impacting nearline drive shipments contributed to the quarterly decline, reflected in a 0.6% quarterly decline in HDDs ASPs. Mass storage HDDs are expected to be the growth driver for the HDD industry.

Leave a Comment