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Data Storage Hardware

Hard Drive Prices Up 150% In Less Than Two Months 304

Posted by Soulskill
from the up-and-up-and-up dept.
zyzko writes "The Register reports that hard drive prices (lowest average unit prices) have rocketed 151% from October 1 to November 14th. The worst days have seen over 5% daily price increases. This is commonly attributed to the floods in Thailand, but there are concerns of artificial price fixing and suspicion that retailers or members of the supply channel are taking advantage of the situation." The number varies when you break it down to individual drives, but it seems to be in the right ballpark. Anecdotally, the drive I picked up on Oct. 14th would cost me 135% more today. The flood waters in Thailand have partially receded, but aren't expected to be completely gone until early December. The damage to the country's economy and property is measured in the tens of billions.
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Hard Drive Prices Up 150% In Less Than Two Months

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  • No, no, no (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lightknight (213164) on Friday November 25, 2011 @06:17PM (#38169924) Homepage

    They aren't up 150%.
    They're up 400%.

    Never thought 500 GB drives would come back into style...and yet they're what my friends are specc'ing into their machines these days.

  • by TheReaperD (937405) on Friday November 25, 2011 @06:18PM (#38169946)

    One advantage of all of this is that SSD drives will start to look more attractive price wise. To me, this is a good thing as people start purchasing SSDs the price will start coming down as the cost of components get more commoditised. I would not mind seeing spindle hard drives being a relic of the past.

  • Obvious (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Friday November 25, 2011 @06:19PM (#38169958) Homepage Journal

    This is the reverse situation to a new product hitting the market. When LCDs or Plasma screens first came out, they were basically unaffordable by anybody except the richest people and companies, now everybody has one.

    This is the same situation in reverse - the production capacity fell and the demand needs to recalibrate the prices.

    Of-course don't forget that there is a fixed cost associated with rebuilding the factories and all the new equipment and tools now are more expensive, given so few harddrive manufacturers even exist and all of the inflation that's rampant in the world.

    If the price holds, it sends a message to rebuild the production and maybe add even more, clearly there is unfulfilled demand at lower prices.

  • by lightknight (213164) on Friday November 25, 2011 @06:40PM (#38170210) Homepage

    Not if the price for SSDs keep dropping.

    Once prices for 1 TB SSDs drop to something nice, HD will be shown the door.

  • Re:What a crock. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Friday November 25, 2011 @06:45PM (#38170262)

    Actually, I think demand is very elastic at this point. It spiked like crazy over the last few weeks as people scrambled to buy as many drives as they could lay their hands on before all of the vendors jacked their prices. The high inflation caused a run on the existing supply. Now demand is going to plunge as people who were adding capacity, just because they could, stop buying drives. But I don't expect prices to come down even as the supply recovers. Insurance will pay to rebuild (and relocate if they're smart) the factories but we'll have inflated prices for a long time.

  • Re:No, no, no (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Friday November 25, 2011 @07:08PM (#38170478)

    Yeah, Drop Box dropped my storage 150%!!

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday November 25, 2011 @07:40PM (#38170760)

    Jesus Christ. If that ain't the gold-standard of examples for why american business is fucked I don't know what is - productivity vs rent-seeking.

  • Re:No, no, no (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrVomact (726065) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:09PM (#38172214) Journal

    A more serious question occurred to me in response to the joke: Has the price of quantity purchases of hard drives skyrocketed like the retail prices? If Amazon or Google want to build another server farm, will they be paying much more than they would have paid a month ago? —If it's only the retail prices that have increased so drastically, then I'd see that as a sign that someone in the supply chain is just taking advantage of a chance to reap a windfall profit. Big purchasers naturally have more clout with suppliers than do individual buyers; if they thought they were being ripped off, they'd buy from another vendor, and no vendor wants to lose that kind of business—so no sensible vendor would jerk around a major customer by raising prices when they didn't have to. However, wholesale suppliers can't afford to sell huge quantities of drives at a loss, so if there truly is a general shortage of drives, they'd all have to raise prices for even the big buyers. Can anyone involved in purchasing large lots of hard drives supply any insight with regard to this question?

  • Re:No, no, no (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dbIII (701233) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:50PM (#38172424)
    The funny thing SAS drives haven't gone up much at all so I've ended up with a system booting off SSD and storing on SAS which is within about $20 of doing the same thing with all SATA. That sucks in a way because the box with the least important job ends up being the fastest.
  • by evilviper (135110) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @12:28AM (#38172610) Journal

    Not only is it quite legal, I (and many others) swear by WD's "Green" hard drives. They're at least as fast as my previous 7200RPM hard drive, and run damn near silent, and very, very cool, even without any attmept to cool them. Unlike Seagate drives, WD HDDs also support acoustic noise management, dropping the already damn quite drives down another few decibles.

    They're not just perfect for DVRs, either. If your primary drive is an SSD, you likelydon't need crazy seek time on your secondary bulk storage, and low power, longevity, and nearly no noise is a great feature.

  • by DrVomact (726065) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @01:31AM (#38172880) Journal

    And yes, drive supplies will rebound because of one fact - a 2TB spinning rust costs way less than a 2TB SSD, and since drives are going 3TB+, I don't see SSDs catching up until drive size expansion slows below Moore's law. (SSD's fundamental capacity is driven by Moore's law - double the transistors in 18 months - double the capacity - SLC or MLC).

    That's an interesting point—that SSD capacity is driven by Moore's law, but spinning disk drives are not. If that's true, you might think that SSDs would overtake spinning platters in a few years, wouldn't you? So platters would be out and SSDs would be the ubiquitous storage medium that hard drives are now. (I realize that this point is tangential to your main comment, and that you didn't actually assert it strongly. So I'm not really arguing with you—I just find the idea interesting, and wanted to spend a little time thinking about it.)

    So when will solid state devices overtake mechanical hard drives? The first thing to consider is that while mechanical drives are not subject to Moore's Law, this technology has had an extraordinarily long life, marked by a pretty amazing growth in data capacity, accompanied by a dramatic reduction in size and power requirements, as well as an increase in I/O rates and a steep decline in prices. Being lazy, I just took a look at the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] on the history of hard drives. It's a pretty amazing story.

    When they were first invented at IBM in 1956, disk drives had a capacity of 5 Megabytes, and were the size of about 6 or 7 full-size refrigerators placed back-to-back. (See the Wikipedia image [wikipedia.org] of this device.) About 10 years later, IBM's multi-platter drives were up to 29 Meg. This is not quite what you'd get from a device that follows Moore's law, of course: disk drives grew in capacity a factor of 6; Moore's law would have dictated that they increase by a factor of about 20 over the same 10 years.

    However, the growth between 1970 and 1980 was more spectacular. In 1970, the biggest IBM "disk pack" had a capacity of 100 Meg. By 1980, we were up to 2.52 Gigabytes...a capacity increase of about 25 times—a growth in excess of Moore's law!. Significantly, the 1980 device was down to the size of a single refrigerator, and only cost $40,000.

    The Wikipedia article has a graph [wikipedia.org] that plots the growth in capacity of hard drives between 1980 and the present (2011). According to the graph, hard drives have increased in capacity at the rate of about 100 times every ten years. Wow.

    Actually, I could have saved myself some time (and painful arithmetic) by just finding the article on Kryder's Law first. Mark Kryder published an article in Scientific American in 2005, in which he asserted that hard drive capacity doubles annually. From the article:

    A PhysOrg.com article reports on a 2009 study by Mark Kryder.[4] According to the report, if hard drives continue to progress at their current pace, then in 2020 a two-platter, 2.5-inch disk drive will be capable of storing more than 14 terabytes(TB) and will cost about $40.

    So maybe the answer to the question, "When will solid state devices replace disk drives?" is, "never"!

    My own experiences incline me to be skeptical of claims that hard drives will be replaced any time soon by something totally different. Back in 1982, when I first decided to make my living "doing stuff with computers", I took a Data Processing 100 class at the local junior college (hey, tuition was cheap, as I was teaching Philosophy at the same institution). The textbook for the course asserted that while spinning platters were now the best method of online data storage (you put all the stuff you didn't absolutely need to ac

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