Spinning rust supply chain seizes up after BIG disk demand spike

Hard disk industry caught between long-term decline and occasional spurts of enthusiasm

Storage analyst outfit Trendfocus says that the hard disk industry has just posted its best growth in seven years, but that it comes with its own problems.

The firm classifies Q3 2016 as having delivered the industry a “strong rebound in demand”, thanks largely to demand for nearline storage.

But the disk-counters says champagne isn't popping in storage-land, because the super-sized disks favoured for nearline applications “utilize higher-performance grades of disks and heads than standard mobile/desktop HDDs, but also employ other components that are more tightly specified.”

Because that kit is complex, it needs more testing which lengthens lead times. Which in turn means “HDD and component companies have to reallocate resources to support demand, but in some instances, that re-prioritization shortchanges other demand.”

But as we all know, spinning rust's days as the dominant storage medium are numbered. Manufacturers know this and Trendfocus thinks they therefore won't invest heavily to meet spurts of demand. Instead, the firm thinks, suppliers will do their best to juggle disk-makers' demands.

“This may result in more tight supply situations like this in the future, but ultimately, it is far better off to deal with tight supply conditions than to deal with over-supply and idle capacity issues” says analyst John Kim. ®

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