While hard drive sales on a unit basis have continued to decline, the drop hasn't been consistent across all segments of the market. In particular, high capacity drives for hyperscalers and other hosts continue to be a hot commodity, as their data storage needs continue to grow and there are few other alternatives. As such, Toshiba has announced that the company will actually be increasing its HDD production capacity, expanding one of its plants in Philippines to increase output of high-end helium-filled enterprise and nearline HDDs. The company is confident of its roadmap (and growing demand for its products) which includes numerous promising products and technologies.

The overall broad shift in HDD demand from lower capacity client to high capacity nearline drives comes as Toshiba finds itself on the outside looking in. The company’s sales mix is dominated by client HDDs, with enterprise drives accounting for about a third of it. So while Toshiba controls about 36% of the global mobile HDD shipments, it only has around 17% of the enterprise/nearline market. As a result, Toshiba is looking to make changes to capture more of the nearline market.

At its Investors Day last month, Toshiba outlined plans to radically increase the share of enterprise/nearline HDDs in its product mix in FY2021 (starts on April 1, 2021), shifting away from client drives and towards nearline drives. Overall, the company set itself a goal to capture an ‘over 20%’ share of the global enterprise/nearline HDD market while maintaining its share of the client HDD market at around 25%

To reach its new goals, Toshiba not only needs to ramp up production, but it will need to ensure it has competitive pricing and technology as well. This means the company needs to continue to invest in developing leading-edge high-capacity nearline drives for hyperscale datacenters, while at the same time keeping prices in check so that they are priced competitively for the small and mid-sized datacenter market. As well, Toshiba will have to focus on client issues, such as improving its customer support as well as collaborating more with Chinese datacenter clients.

On the product side of things, Toshiba has a rather solid roadmap. Earlier this year the company confirmed that it would use shingled magnetic recording (SMR) and energy assisted magnetic recording (EAMR) technologies (e.g., MAMR, HAMR) to boost areal density. In addition to that, the company’s roadmap now officially includes drives with 10 platters (up from nine today). Which to offer some context, a 10-platter design using the highest-capacity platters available today would enable a 22 TB HDD. Though it bears mentioning that adding a 10th platter to existing drives is not a trivial task (i.e. how do you fit it in?), so Toshiba isn't disclosing when they expect to have their 10-platter design ready.

In the meantime, the company’s roadmap includes a 20 TB HDD as soon as FY2021. And, going forward, all of Toshiba's leading-edge hard drives will be helium-filled.

The big challenge – as is often the case – is on the manufacturing side of matters. Toshiba’s current capacity to build helium-filled devices in its Carmelray Industrial Park plant is somewhat limited, so the company needs to expand these production lines to meet demands it is going to face in the coming years. It's fitting then that even Toshiba is being a bit cautious here, holding off on disclosing specific production goals for helium drives.

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Source: Toshiba



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  • npz - Monday, December 2, 2019 - link

    Well I never believed that story for a second. Primarily because the very same manufacturers already had > 16TB on their roadmaps and had already built up to 40TB SSDs for customers, so there had to be some demand. Plus with data ever-growing at the individual level to cloud level, space constraints take more priority Reply
  • ikjadoon - Monday, December 2, 2019 - link

    I'm hoping this means NAS/enterprise drives finally move the needle in cost/TB. We've been at $25/TB for half a decade (if not longer?). 2014 to 2019 came & passed us by with essentially zero price changes per TB.

    Surely 6 TB / 8 TB drives should've dropped in price by now, but nope.
  • npz - Monday, December 2, 2019 - link

    You can get $15-16/TB by shucking external drives Reply
  • Korguz - Tuesday, December 3, 2019 - link

    and what do you do with all those external cases ???? or warranty ?? or if the drive isnt a standard sata drive but a sata to usb onboard pcb?? npz.. you keep saying take XXX apart to get the internals out, cause it is " cheaper " but i doubt most would even consider this... is just, well, stupid Reply
  • npz - Tuesday, December 3, 2019 - link

    This is what a lot of data hoarder community members do. And Backblaze btw. Reply
  • npz - Tuesday, December 3, 2019 - link

    I also have not seen anything but standard SATA drives for 3.5" externals. Some, particularly WD may use the new SATA 3.3 power spec which can require an molex-sata power adapter to workaround for older power supplies, but everything always works. Again, Backblaze was the trailblazer in this trend showing there's no difference. There's nothing proprietary.

    Now, only on a few 2.5" external drives there's a chance of soldered on pcb sata-usb bridge unit
  • GreenReaper - Tuesday, December 3, 2019 - link

    Worked for me, I'm still using the drive. Saved about $20 on it, which was not trivial. Not sure if the enclosure was usable after that, unfortunate to waste it but at the end of the day I've done worse. Reply
  • Skeptical123 - Wednesday, December 4, 2019 - link

    Stop talking out of your a**. Tons of people are doing it. There is no real reason not to. The interwebs are full of people talking about how it's a good idea. The worth part is to use the warranty you have to put it back together but shuking the drive and putting it back together should take about 5 min in total the first time. Reply
  • Korguz - Thursday, December 5, 2019 - link

    Skeptical123 " Stop talking out of your a** " wow, there is an intelligent comment.

    " Tons of people are doing it. " that i doubt.. NO one i talked to, would even consider doing this to save a few bucks, and to void the warranty.. to do this make NO sense over a whole 20-50 buck difference @ the 1 tb size. you run the risk of damaging the external case, which mean IF you do need to return it, you are screwed. IF you mark the case at ALL while taking it apart, or damage the parts that hold the external case together, again, you are screwed. the times i have taken any hardware back to the store for what ever reason, they ALWAYS inspect it right then and there to make sure there are no signs of tampering, or abnormal wear. eventually, the makers of the external cases will get smart, and make them in such a way, that in order to take the drive out, you practically have to destroy the case to do it... this isnt " talking out of my butt " as you say.. its just common sense.
  • azfacea - Monday, December 2, 2019 - link

    i dont believe these enterprise growth projections for one nano second. this largely assumes the growth of content (online video) will go to hard drives. thats where they are dead wrong. hard drive bandwidth and performance is not good enough for these use cases requiring RAID and replication games of all sorts. SSDs can serve this traffic with much lower replication factor.

    cold storage and not content is what these drives will be useful for. their growth estimates are pure fantasy

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