Mechanical hard drives have been (and still are) powering modern computers since their inception. Many experts, however, are predicting their imminent end. This might be in part to the various advancements in storage technology, or perhaps they might be mistaken. Either way, it’s a subject worth discussing, especially for followers of computer hardware technology.
The Current Situation
Solid state drives (SSDs) are the primary rivals of mechanical hard drives. These storage devices are quite popular because of their speed. It’s a night-and-day difference if you compare their speeds with mechanical hard drives. Modern computers are increasingly supporting faster tech, with USB 3.0/3.1, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, and Thunderbolt 3 expected to improve data transfer drastically from SATA III.
The problem, however, is that SSDs of similar storage capacities are relatively expensive. While prices are down, Excerpt noted that the cost per gigabyte is still much better in mechanical HDDs. This is why many personal computers and servers still opt for traditional HDDs, willing to sacrifice data rate for the price (and long-term reliability as well for reputable brands).
According to the research firm TrendForce, about 56% of all PCs to be shipped in 2018 will come with SSDs. This is part of the increasing clamor for greater data transfer rates. Contrary to popular belief, however, SSDs have already existed long before becoming popular with today’s consumers. As mechanical hard drives don’t fit in handheld devices, manufacturers have no choice but to use banks of faster, more portable flash memory, which is essentially an SSD.
There are also economic concerns involving SSDs and HDDs battling it out. According to HDD giant Seagate Technology, SSDs will never match HDDs in terms of per-gigabyte pricing, no matter how cheap NAND flash memory gets in the coming years. Senior finance VP Dave Morton further claims that even by 2020, Seagate’s drives will be worth less than half-a-penny per gigabyte of storage, and SSD pricing simply cannot keep up.
Whatever happens, storage devices will continue to evolve and probably feature more cost-efficient solutions in the near future.