How much data can you store in a 1 Terabyte (1Tbyte) Hard Disk Drive (HDD)?El Segundo, Calif., Jan. 5, 2007
—Image a stack of 50 million letter-sized sheets of paper stretching 3.5 miles into the sky. Imagine 500 full-length, standard-definition movies stored on your TiVo—with room to spare. Imagine sitting down to listen to your entire iTunes music collection—for 250,000 hours without repeating a song.
That’s the kind of utility delivered by Hitachi Global Storage Technology’s new model 7K1000 introduced today—the world’s first 1Tbyte HDD. For the HDD industry, Hitachi’s 7K1000 represents a historic milestone, standing shoulder to shoulder with accomplishments including the arrival of the original hard drive in 1956, the introduction of the first 10Mbyte drive in 1985 and the rise to the 1Gbyte capacity in 1991.
However, every time another capacity milestone is crossed, the question is asked: Does anybody really need all this storage?
The answer to this question is a resounding “yes,” iSuppli Corp. believes. Nevertheless, reflecting the changing dynamics of the HDD industry, the major use for the 7K1000 for the next five to seven years will not be in the hard drive’s traditional bread-and-butter market in mainstream desktop PCs—but rather in consumer electronics products and high-end gaming computers.
“The sweet spot for HDD capacity in the average PC remains in the 100Gbyte to 160Gbyte range,” said Krishna Chander, senior analyst, storage systems, for iSuppli. “Because of this, 1Tbyte drives probably won’t find a huge opportunity in desktop PCs for the next five to seven years, achieving only 3 percent to 5 percent penetration during this period. But, for exciting new products and applications like home gateways, media-center PCs, High Definition (HD) movie downloads, HD Set-Top Boxes (STBs) and HD Digital Video Recorders (DVRs), a 1Tbyte HDD fits the bill nicely, both in terms of capacity and cost.”
While computers remain the largest application for HDDs, with nearly five times the level of unit shipments compared to other types of products, non-computing applications—like consumer electronics—represent the area of fastest growth for hard drives.
Shipments of HDDs to non-computing applications will rise at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 23.8 percent from 2005 to 2010, expanding to 177.7 million units in 2010, up from 62.1 million in 2005, iSuppli predicts. For 3.5-inch HDDs like the 7K1000, unit shipments to non-computing applications will rise at a 22.8 percent CAGR during the same period, expanding to 67.9 million 2010, up from 24.3 million in 2005. In contrast, HDD shipments for all types of computers will rise at a CAGR of only 10.6 percent from 2005 to 2010, and shipments to desktop PCs will grow by a scant 7.1 percent.
The figure below and attached shows iSuppli’s forecast for worldwide HDD shipments for computing and non-computing applications.
Source: iSuppli Corp. January 2007
Fully aware of where the growth is, Hitachi GST is targeting the 7K1000 at the DVR and STB markets—along with high-end gaming PCs and near-line storage applications.
This Hitachi 7K1000 is a five-disk solution in a 3.5-inch form factor that uses Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) technology to achieve its high density. The 7K1000 sports an areal density of 148Gbits per square inch and has audio/video Quality of Service (QoS) features and rotational vibration sensors features that make it suitable for DVR and enterprise applications.
Given the strong opportunity for high-capacity drives in non-computer segments, other HDD suppliers are expected to join Hitachi GST at the 1Tbyte party this year. Together, Hitachi GST and its competitors are expected to drive HDD capacities to the 10Tbyte level in late 2014, iSuppli predicts. This next phase of capacity increases will be driven by new technologies including Patterned Media and/or Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR).
Coming shortly after the 50th anniversary of the HDD in September, 2006, the arrival of the Hitachi GST’s 7K1000 represents a major milestone for the storage industry, and another sign of the hard-drive market’s increasing focus on fast-growing non-computing applications.