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HDD loses market to flash memory

Hard disc drive manufacturers are rapidly losing market share to flash memory suppliers and need to commit to advanced high density technologies to avoid further loses and consolidation, according to a recent report from market research company The Information Network.

"The HDD market already lost the battle in the small form factor market such as MP3 and cameras to solid-state drives and risk further erosion in the 2.5-inch enterprise space," notes Dr Robert Castellano, President of The Information Network. "The major bright spot for hard disc drives is the 2.5-inch laptop market, and even there solid-state products are on the market that are slowly nibbling away at their dominance.

Fujitsu's disc storage business is up for sale. The market underwent significant consolidation in the late 1980s – the number of hard disc drive manufacturers dropped from 136 in the 1980s to only 8 today.

Solid state drives, while priced at twice that of a comparable hard disc drive, offer significant advantages of faster speed, lower power consumption and less heat generation.

"The oversupply of flash memory, which has hurt the semiconductor industry in 2008 will hurt the hard disc drive market in 2009," added Castellano. "Evolutionary methodologies available to the HDD industry such as Discrete Track Recording (DTR) technology, which can offer areal densities of 500 Gbits per square inch and above, will be necessary survive in this market."

Indeed, CD Freaks notes that flash memory manufacturers have seen declining prices, with Toshiba, SanDisk and other companies relying heavily on NAND flash suffering. Toshiba said NAND prices fell 45% from April to September, and expects the company's profits to drop a whopping 60% next March. The NAND price drop, according to manufacturers, was steep and rather unexpected, and shows no signs of letting up.

Story filed 05.01.09

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