Is an HDD/SSD Price Crossover Coming Soon?

Western Digital's 10TB Ultrastar He HDDThe SSD Guy was recently asked whether HDDs would continue, at least through 2019, to remain preferable to SSDs as cost-effective high-capacity storage.  The answer was “Yes”.

Longtime readers will note that I steadfastly maintain that HDD and SSD gigabyte prices are unlikely to cross for a very long time.  Historically, a gigabyte of NAND flash has cost between ten to twenty times as much as a gigabyte of HDD.  Let’s look at where Objective Analysis expects things to go by 2019.

Our current projections call for NAND price per gigabyte to reach 4.4 cents in 2019.  I would expect for HDD to still be 1/10th to 1/20th of that price.  Most likely 1/10th, since we expect for NAND flash to be in a significant oversupply at that time and will be selling at cost.

If HDD prices continue to hover around $50, then a 2019 HDD price of 0.44 to 0.22 cents per gigabyte (1/10th to 1/20th of the price of NAND flash) would imply an average HDD capacity of 11-23TB.

A couple of weeks ago, on December 2, 2015, Western Digital’s HGST introduced its Ultrastar He 10 HDD which boasts a 10TB capacity at a 7,200 RPM spindle speed.  Since the product is offered with both SAS and SATA interfaces it would be safe to assume that this product is aimed at the enterprise for the near term, but the 7,200 RMP spindle speed and the SATA interface indicate that WD eventually expects to sell this HDD into a broader client market.  I would fully expect for this drive to be a commodity by 2019, and for a future HDD with a higher capacity to rival it for market share in client applications.

Seagate is selling 6TB HDDs today for desktop applications, so getting to twice that by 2019 seems well within Seagate’s reach too.

So it appears, at least through 2019, that HDD and NAND flash prices will maintain their very large price gap, allowing HDDs to continue to be the industry’s choice for cost-effective capacity while NAND continues to offer higher performance at a higher price.


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