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C1Q 2021 HDD Update

I have a quarterly newsletter where I provide subscribers with lots of information on digital storage and memory topics with particular information on the HDD industry. Some material from the May 2021 newsletter are presented below.

Total HDD shipments in C1Q 2021 were down 8.8% compared with C4Q 2020 (64.1M versus 70.4M), up 10.8% in C4Q 2020 from C3Q 2020, up 8.3% in C3Q from C2Q 2020, down 13.5% in C2Q from C1Q 2020 and down 12.8% in C1Q 2020 from C4Q 2019.

Seagate and Western Digital have both changed their release of HDD shipment information during their quarterly announcements making it more difficult to figure out their actual unit shipments.  WD started with their CQ3 2018 announcements while Seagate starting doing this in CQ1 2017.  

The latest quarterly numbers from Seagate only give quantitative information for mass capacity (mostly nearline and surveillance HDDs) and legacy HDDs as well as average capacity of mass capacity and legacy HDDs.  Western Digital’s latest number give client computing, non-compute units and data center unit numbers and percentage change in total capacity shipped from the prior quarter.  

Also, Toshiba has changed their data presentation, starting in 2020, although there is still more detail available than for Seagate and Western Digital. This has made it more difficult to report actual shipments of various categories of HDDs.  Thus, the numbers reported here are our best guess estimates.

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Notebook HDD shipments are estimated to be down 9% from the prior quarter while desktop HDD shipments are down by 4.1% Q2Q.  CE HDD shipments were down 38% while branded shipments were down 1.9% Q2Q.  High performance enterprise HDDs were down 2.5% while near line enterprise HDDs were up 15.8% Q2Q.  

3.5-inch HDDs are estimated to have decreased by 1.3% Q/Q.  2.5-inch HDDs decreased by 16.3% Q2Q.   

Here are the actual reports from Seagate and Western Digital for C1Q 2021.  Seagate said that they shipped 110.6EB of mass capacity hard disk drives with 9a5.5 EB of this being in nearline HDDs.  They shipped 29.0EB of legacy HDDs.  The average drive capacity of mass capacity HDDs was 9.6TB and the average drive capacity for legacy HDDs was 1.8TB.  Seagate’s overall capacity shipped was 139.6EB with an average capacity per drive of 5.1TB.  Seagate’s HDD revenue in the quarter was $2.493B.

Western Digital reported that their C1Q 2021 total HDD EB shipments increased by 7% from the prior quarter.  They also said that shipped client compute units were 9.2M, non-compute shipped HDD units were 8.3M and data center HDD unit shipments were 5.7M.  Western Digital said that their ASP in the quarter was $82.

In Table 1 we see an 12.5% ASP increase from C4Q 2020 to C1Q 2021 compared to an 4.5% ASP decrease from C3Q to C4Q 2020, an 7.6% ASP decrease from C2Q to C3Q 2020, an 2.1% ASP increase from C1Q to C2Q 2020 and an 8.9% ASP increase from C4Q 2019 to C1Q 2020.  The ASP increase in C1Q 2021 was due to growth in nearline HDD shipments.

The multiyear trends in ASPs as shown in Figure 1

Table 2 gives estimated C1Q 2021 drive numbers by company and application. 

Table 3 shows estimated C1Q 2021 drive numbers by company and form factor.  

Table 4 shows C1Q 2021 estimated Exabytes Shipped by company and general application.  Note that per Seagate’s reports, Legacy includes PC, CE, Branded and enterprise applications.  Also note that WDC only gives a change in total exabytes shipped for the quarter versus the prior quarter.

Figure 2 shows the unit shipment market share of the three HDD producers for C1Q 2021.  

Figure 7 gives our projections for drives by market niche out to 2026.  Figure 8 does the same for drive form factor.   

Figure 11 shows total projected shipments for Tape (LTO), SSDs and HDDs.  Figure 12 shows Seagate’s C1Q 2021 nearline HDD shipments compared to prior quarters.  Renewed strength in nearline HDD shipments drove total nearline capacity demand.  Note also that Seagate said that greater than or equal to 16TB HDDs contributed nearly 50% of total exabyte shipments.   

HDDs for nearline storage showed considerable capacity growth between C4Q 2020 and C1Q 2021 with significant increases in average storage capacity per drive.  Average sales prices also were higher due to the sale of more high-capacity HDDs.  Market share between the three HDD manufacturers was little changed Q2Q.  HDDs remain the major storage media for the world’s digital content.

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