'HDDs to Record 80% of Man-made Info,' Toshiba Executive Says

Jan 21, 2008
Mami Akasaka, Tech-On!

"The amount of information created by human beings will reportedly reach 120 Ebytes (1 Ebyte is equivalent to 1018 bytes) a year in 2008. Meanwhile, the amount of HDD shipments is 95 Ebytes per year in comparison with flash memory's 4 Ebytes."

Yoichiro Tanaka, senior manager of Storage Device Division, Digital Media Network Company, Toshiba Corp, a company well-known for its perpendicular recording HDD technology, indicated epic calculations at the beginning of his lecture.

His lecture was one of the programs in a seminar hosted by HDD industry organization IDEMA Japan. Just before him, three analysts had been citing factors including competition with flash memory as concerns for the future of the HDD market. Tanaka disagreed with their tone of argument.

"Flash provides excitement for the most downstream part of content distribution, namely the area of mobile devices that carry content. This energizes content distribution itself and increases the total amount of information that is distributed," he said. "HDDs will continue to record 80% of that information."

Tanaka also indicated his bullish view for the 1.8-inch HDD market. The 1.8-inch HDD market shrank about 17% year-on-year in 2007 due to decreased shipments of portable music/video player applications, but Tanaka predicted the market is expected to post two-digit percentage growth every year from 2008 to 2011.

This prediction is based on the increasing adoption to camcorders, notebook PCs and external HDDs that is expected for 1.8-inch HDDs, he said.

"In 2008, more than 40% of all camcorders will be embedded with HDDs," Tanaka said. "Even with notebook PCs, 1.8-inch HDDs are optimal for compact models like the 'MacBook Air.'"

Toshiba's HDD business specializes in 2.5- and 1.8-inch models with its unit shipments accounting for about 8% of the overall HDD market. Toshiba will maintain the focus of its basic strategy on increasing the volume of 2.5-inch models, he said.

As the context for this strategy, Tanaka said, "If 1 Tbyte or less is the issue, 7,200rpm 2.5-inch HDDs might replace 3.5-inch HDDs." He also said, "I hope we can stir ideas for new HDD applications by providing the largest-volume 2.5-inch HDD," expressing his hopes for the generation of new markets.

As a technology that holds the key to larger-volume 2.5-inch HDDs, Tanaka introduced Discrete Track Recording (DTR) technology, which the company announced in September 2007.

Tanaka indicated his outlook, saying, "Current perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology can cover up to 500-Gbit/inch2. Based on PMR, we will adopt DTR technology somewhere in the development of 500G to 1 Tbit/inch2 models."