As a follow up to our blog posted on October 5, 2015, I wanted to comment further on the future of NAND output and how that will effect HDD demand, or not.

We all know that NAND bit output continues to increase each year. This is enabled mainly by the development and deployment of new NAND technologies – from planar NAND at 32nm, 24nm, 19nm, 15nm, etc…. We have seen planar NAND technology make great progress in increasing storage density and capacity output. We will continue to see this increase with multiple vendors transitioning to 3D NAND through 2016 and into 2017 (for true volume) from multiple vendors. But even with these migrations to new technologies from multiple vendors, we can still assume that bit increases each year will be at or near 30% growth. It is very reminiscent of what we have seen in the HDD industry over the years. Below are some exabyte numbers and comparisons as to how they map to each other through 2019.

  2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
HDD EB shipment forecast 547 661 788 926 1071
SSD EB shipment forecast 27 41 51 61 73
Total NAND Output EB Forecast 75 97 126 164 214
SSD EB’s as % of Total NAND output 36% 42% 40% 37% 34%
Total NAND output as % of HDD EB’s forecasted 14% 15% 16% 18% 20%

You can make the argument that even with the increase in NAND output, from a capacity perspective, it still maps to just over 1/3 of the total NAND shipped that will go to SSD integration. Remember, we will still need to buy our new iPhones and iPads every so often! Don’t’ get me wrong, I do miss my Motorola StarTAC cellular phone, but my iPhone has been a slight improvement over that device! And, it comes with 128GB of storage, which takes care of all my photos, games, and videos that my twin daughters ‘need’ every single day.  The same can be said for tablets to help you get through those dinners in restaurants where your kids are done eating before you even get your appetizers! Aren’t tablets just magical in those situations??

Of course, if we look at the notebook segment, we can pretty much agree that the commercial segment has been, and will continue to move to SSDs. We are still mapping to about a 20% overall SSD attach rate this year, dominated by the commercial segment. Remember that in the commercial market, which represents about 40% of total notebook PCs, capacity is not the first priority for purchasing a system. Some SSD vendors have tried to tackle the consumer notebook segment with lower cost SSDs – at lower capacities like 128GB – by offering them at about the same price as a 500GB HDD, but have not found much success.  This reinforces the notion of buying behavior in the consumer notebook market (about 60% of the total notebook market TAM) – that pricing AND capacity still dominate.

But for all those photos being stored on Facebook, and all those emails on AOL and Yahoo that go back almost 20 years, to all you HDD manufacturers out there (the three who are left) – make sure you continue to innovate and build those nearline HDDs…. we need them! The opinion of ‘it’s good enough’ still dominates and high capacity HDDs are more than adequate for these use cases.