By GABEY GOH
THE 50-year trend of declining hard-disk prices has come to an end, according to Hubert Yoshida, vice-president and chief technology officer of Hitachi Data Systems.
He said multiple factors had contributed to this, such as the emergence of new technologies like heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) and Patterned Media.
HAMR involves heating the magnetic regions on a disk that hold individual data bits, allowing those regions to be made tinier.
Current hard-disk drives using Perpendicular Magnetic Recording technology have a density of up to 630-gigabits per sq in, and a theoretical limit of about 1 terabit per sq in. HAMR can theoretically reach densities of up to 10 terabits or more per sq in.
Patterned Media, is a magnetic storage technology to record data in a uniform array of magnetic cells, storing one bit per cell, as opposed to regular hard-drive technology where each bit is stored across a few hundred magnetic grains.
"The cost of retooling operations to support these new technologies is something that manufacturers will have to factor in when determining prices," Yoshida said.
Also, the huge flood in Thailand last year - which is home to about a quarter of the world's hard drive production - has been reported to have caused damages that will require about US$1bil (RM3bil) to rectify.
"Call it a case of bad timing, I don't see this supply haemorrhage being fully addressed until the end of summer this year, and even then we will not see a price decline," said Yoshida.
He said disk storage prices are expected to stabilise by 2014 but customers will have to pay more for these large capacity drives, putting increased pressure on enterprises to maximise current assets and increase storage efficiencies.
Organisations are now looking to extend capitalisation of hardware from 3 to 5 years to 5 to7, and the separation of storage intelligence from storage capacity.
To increase the efficiency of capacity utilisation, companies need to eliminate redundancies and wasteful practices, with the first step being the evaluation of current storage assets to determine how underutilised capacity can be redeployed.
Since the beginning of the year, Hitachi has been offering local clients the option to take up its Storage Reclamation Service, which addresses immediate storage growth requirements at a lower cost than new asset acquisition.
The service is also intended to help companies establish a solid operational approach for significantly lowering their long-term storage costs.
"One could easily live off the fat in moving toward more efficient provisioning of data capacity. In many cases, we have been able to recover 40% of existing storage to be reallocated to other uses," Yoshida said.