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May 8, 2019, 05:40pm

HDD Q1 2019 Results

Tom Coughlin

Tom CoughlinContributorEnterprise & Cloud

This blog presents data from the latest Digital Storage Technology Newsletter (more information on the newsletter at: on hard disk drive (HDD) quarterly results and projections for the future, including HDD component projections. Note that changes in the reporting from Western Digital and Seagate do not report unit shipments and these have to be estimated from average capacities and exabytes shipped numbers.

Total HDD shipments in CQ1 2019 were down 11.4% compared with CQ4 2018 (77.7 M units in Q1 2019 versus 87.7 M units in CQ 2018) compared with down 9.7 % in CQ4 2018 compared with CQ3 2018 (87.7 M units in Q4 2018 versus 97.1 M units in Q3 2018). This is after an 0.6% decline from CQ2 2018 to CQ3 2018 and an 3.1% increase from CQ1 2018 to CQ2 2018.

Notebook HDD shipments decreased by 11.6% while desktop HDD shipments decreased by 16.5% Q2Q. CE HDD shipments were down 13.8% while branded shipments were down 9.4% Q2Q. High performance enterprise HDDs were up 2.2% while near line enterprise HDDs were down 6.6% Q2Q.

3.5-inch HDDs decreased by 11.5% Q2Q. 2.5-inch HDDs decreased by 11.2% Q2Q.

There was a 2.6% average sales price (ASP) increase from CQ4 2018 to CQ1 2019 compared to an 5.2% decline from CQ3 2018 to CQ4 2018, a 0.7% increase from CQ2 2018 to CQ3 2018 and a 0.4% decrease from CQ1 2018 to CQ2 2018. The figure below shows average HDD price trends in the industry from Q4 1998 through Q1 2019. Since the latest consolidation in the industry in 2012 prices stabilized and generally grew from a low point in early 2011.

HDD Average Sales Price Trends (1998 through Q1 2019)

HDD Average Sales Price Trends (1998 through Q1 2019)IMAGE BY TOM COUGHLIN

Seagate appears to have 41% of the shipped HDDs in Q1 2019, followed by Western Digital at 35% and Toshiba at 24%. Note that Toshiba market share was about 23% in 2018, and this market share appears to be pretty stable.


The figure below shows our high, median and low estimate of total drive unit volume estimates out to 2025.

High, Median and Low HDD Shipment Estimates

High, Median and Low HDD Shipment Estimates IMAGE BY TOM COUGHLIN

The figure below gives our estimates for HDDs, magnetic media (disks) and heads production out to 2025 based upon the median estimate for HDDs in the figure above. Slower growth in HDD areal density (at least through 2019) and the growth of capacity-oriented Near Line drives for enterprise and hyperscale applications will result in more components per drive out to 2025. We project that total shipments of heads and media will exceed the peak in 2014 by 2020, largely due to the growth of high capacity (many heads and media) hard disk drives.

HDD Head and Media Projections

HDD Head and Media Projections IMAGE BY TOM COUGHLIN

The figure below shows the product announcement maximum areal density per quarter compared to lines representing areal density growth. Note that we are now in a period of extended product and laboratory areal density stagnation, similar to the period from 2011 through 2015. We could use energy assisted recording any time now…

HDD Announced Product Areal Density Trends

HDD Announced Product Areal Density Trends IMAGE BY TOM COUGHLIN

Drive shipments by application estimates are shown in the following figure.

HDD Shipment by Market


Estimated total HDD storage capacity shipments are shown below and the estimated HDD $/GB is shown below the capacity shipments. HDD storage prices are estimated to fall below $0.01/GB ($10/TB) by 2022.

HDD Annual Capacity Shipments

HDD Annual Capacity Shipments IMAGE BY TOM COUGHLIN

HDD $/GB History and Projections

HDD $/GB History and Projections IMAGE BY TOM COUGHLIN

Q1 2019 HDD shipments slumped in Q1 2019 versus Q2 2018. Personal computer HDDs will continue to decline as more users (particularly notebook computer users) switch to SSDs. CE and branded products are threatened by cloud-based backup and content delivery services and high performance enterprise HDDs should gradually decline as this market moves to enterprise SSDs. The remaining growth market for HDD in the future is probably for high capacity, low cost near line storage drives, currently at 14% of total HDD shipments. We expect that demand for cloud-based inexpensive storage will continue to drive growth in this market segment with these drives exceeding 50% of all shipped HDDs by 2024 or 2025.

Tom Coughlin consults and writes on digital storage and applications.  He is chairman of the Storage Visions and Creative Storage Conferences,

Tom Coughlin

Tom CoughlinContributor

I am the President of Coughlin Associates and a storage analyst and consultant. I have over 37 years in the data storage industry with multiple engineering and managemen… Read More

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