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Toshiba twirls its HAMR, ponders whether to smash spinning rust

Watch out for Seagate's shinglers, boys

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Toshiba shipped 22.7 million disk drives in the last calendar 2013, with numbers bulked up by its acquisition of HGST assets in 2012. But where is it going with its disk tech?

WD shipped 63.1 million spinning rust platters in the same period and Seagate managed 53.8 million. Tosh's drive type number splits were:-

  • Enterprise (SAS and nearline SAS) at 1.44 million compared to 1.25 and 1.04 million in the prior and year-ago quarters respectively
  • Enterprise SATA drive shipments for the quarter were around 341,000, up from 177,000 and ~93,000 units shipped in the prior and year-ago quarters
  • 2.5-inch mobile drives - 13.8 million, 3 per cent down on the previous quarter but 2 per cent up on the annual compare
  • 3.5-inch desktop - 4.61 million drives, which is a 138 per cent year-on-year increase and 24 per cent higher than the previous quarter. This growth comes from Toshiba's acquisition of HGST drive assets consequent from WD buying HGST.
  • Consumer drives - 2.82 million units shipped. This was 13.5 per cent higher than the previous quarter and 47 per cent up on the year-ago quarter

Thanks to Aaron Rakers of Stifel Nicolaus for these numbers.

There's still some interesting – and unanswered – questions about Toshiba's drive business concerning the coming switch from perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) to .... well, what exactly?

Will Toshiba employ shingled magnetic recording, go to helium-filled enclosure technology, or jump to HAMR (Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording)? It has to do one or more of these things to enable its 3.5-inch drives to keep up capacity-wise with HGST's helium drives and Seagate's coming 6TB shingled drives.

We watch and wait for the time when Toshiba will talk about its coming drive technology. ®

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