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Tablets, ultrathins push SSD market in 1Q13

Posted: 13 Aug 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IHS  SSD market  ultrathin  Ultrabook  tablet 

As a result of the increased usage in ultrathin/Ultrabook PCs as well as in PC tablets, solid-state drives (SSD) in Q1 got a huge boost. SSD shipments approached 59 lakh units from January to March this year according to IHS. This total was up more than threefold from 19 lakh units during the same three-month period in the first quarter of 2012. SSDs made significant growth in the PC tablet space where shipments hit 16 lakh units, surging by a factor of three from just 542,000 units.

SSD shipments actually increased in virtually every segment where these electronic disks with no moving mechanical parts are used. SSD deployment rose not only in the enterprise segment governing business, but also staged strong gains in the various non-enterprise fields covering desktop PCs, notebook PCs and the industrial market for applications such as aerospace, automotive and medical electronics.

All told, SSD shipments in Q1 amounted to 1.15 crore units, up 92 per cent from 60 lakh during the same time a year ago. The shipments include stand-alone SSDs, as well as the NAND flash component—also known as a cache SSD—used together with a separate hard disc drive to make up another SSD-based storage mechanism.

"The SSD market enjoyed strong results in the first quarter as both the consumer and enterprise markets ramped up their utilisation of machines that made use of the drives," said Fang Zhang, analyst for storage systems at IHS. "Most notably, SSD attach rates climbed in ultrathin/Ultrabook PCs where SSDs are the de facto storage medium, and also in PC tablets where productivity options differentiate them from media tablets."

Meanwhile, the hard disc drive (HDD) market enjoyed some success of its own via the enterprise segment. Shipments here amounted to 1.60 crore units, up from 1.49 crore in 1Q12.

HDD enterprise demand is expected to continue growing because of the exploding use of data among consumers, especially in music, video and social networking. Consumers' needs, in turn, will necessitate cost-effective storage solutions on the part of data centres and cloud servers that store and serve up the data. HDDs are still considerably less expensive than SSDs, so their use remains assured despite uneven or dwindling market results at times.

The HDD market, however, is encountering challenges in the consumer PC segment. Total HDD consumer PC shipments fell to 9.33 crore units in Q1, down from 10.53 crore a year ago. The HDD consumer PC space had worse results than either the HDD enterprise segment or the entire SSD consumer PC market, mainly because of poor sales of desktop and notebook PC on which the HDD market relies, weakened by intense competition from smartphones and tablets.

A promising application of HDDs, however, is in the video surveillance market, where hard drives will exceed other storage media, including SSDs and tape. Two types of HDDs are used at present for the video surveillance industry: dedicated DVR drives for traditional analogue closed-circuit television (CCTV) and enterprise HDDs.

In all, HDD shipments in Q1 amounted to 13.57 crore units, down seven per cent from 14.55 crore the same time a year ago.

Among companies, SSD manufacturers whose prospects have significantly improved given their stronger enterprise strategies include South Korea's Samsung Electronics; California-based makers Intel, SanDisk and Seagate; and Hitachi Global Storage Technologies from Japan. Also staging a strong debut in the SSD space was LSI from Silicon Valley, which claimed shipments of 400,000 PCI Express SSDs from the start of the year through April.

In the HDD market, Western Digital continued to hold the top spot for the fourth quarter in a row, beating rivals Seagate and Hitachi. Western Digital and Seagate are expected to continue battling for the top spot throughout the year, especially as the two adversaries release new HDD products, including large-capacity helium hard disks aimed at enterprise servers for data centres, which offer greater storage capabilities than current HDD technologies.

For more statistics and forecasts, click here.

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