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Data Storage Hardware

PC Makers Run Short of Popular Drives 353

Posted by timothy
from the shortfall-highprice dept.
Lucas123 writes "The impact from the monsoonal flooding in Thailand over the past three months is now being felt by users as computer system manufacturers are unable to meet supply needs. Lenovo told its corporate customers this week that is has run out of a number of drives including several types of 7200rpm and 5400rpm HDDs. 'Akin to the hysteria when banks defaulted in the 1930[s], PC orders across the industry are being placed for which HD supply does not exist,' a Lenovo rep wrote to his clients. IDC this week said the HDD shortages that have resulted from the flooding of four major Thailand industrial parks will likely be felt into 2013. Western Digital and Toshiba have been hit the hardest. PC shipments are also expected to fall short by 3.8 million units in the first quarter of 2012 due to component supply shortages. Meanwhile, there has been some indication of retail HDD price stabilization, but for some of the most popular hard drives prices continue to soar."
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PC Makers Run Short of Popular Drives

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  • Don't bitch. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by masternerdguy (2468142) on Friday December 09, 2011 @11:03PM (#38322420)
    We're short on hard drives, and the factory workers are short on homes because of flooding.
    • Re:Don't bitch. (Score:5, Informative)

      by InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) on Friday December 09, 2011 @11:05PM (#38322434)
      Not only that, but many people have died too. It's currently over 600 deaths.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Pastor Jake (2510522)

      My fellow-believer,

      Despite the less-than-Christian wording of the title of your comment, I must agree with your overall sentiment. It pains me that during the season of Christ's birth, consumers are complaining of a shortage of a material luxury when there are so many people who lost loved-ones and the basic necessities they need to survive because of the flooding. My prayers go out to those affected and those who wanted Santa to bring them that extra 10TB RAID 0+1 array; may the Lord provide the former wi

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by RandomAvatar (2487198)
        but what if we don't WANT to be cured of our addiction to pornography ....
      • by hawguy (1600213) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @12:29AM (#38322946)

        My fellow-believer,

        Despite the less-than-Christian wording of the title of your comment, I must agree with your overall sentiment. It pains me that during the season of Christ's birth, consumers are complaining of a shortage of a material luxury when there are so many people who lost loved-ones and the basic necessities they need to survive because of the flooding. My prayers go out to those affected and those who wanted Santa to bring them that extra 10TB RAID 0+1 array; may the Lord provide the former with what they need, and may the latter be cured of their addiction to pornography.

        Your respectful peer,
        Jake

        No Christian needs a 10TB RAID0+1 array - Jesus would use RAID6 (with a battery backed caching RAID controller)

        • No Christian needs a 10TB RAID0+1 array - Jesus would use RAID6 (with a battery backed caching RAID controller)

          Nope, he actually would use RAID5, and thrash the array because a) one disk totally failing on him and b) another one failing reads three times during recovery. But don't worry, somehow a three-day ddrescue would finally bring back all data (to be saved in "the cloud", of course).

          • Don't take it out on others just because you're imperfect and ignore all of the S.M.A.R.T. and controller warnings... Some of us tech Gurus do religiously tend to our flock of hard-drives and recognize when they are in spiritual, and physical, need of replacement....

    • Furthermore after the floods they may be out of jobs too, a lot of factories may very well pick up and move elsewhere(most likely China)
    • As tech support for a certain four-letter PC manufacturer, because of this I remind peope with good income every day that there has been a natural disaster in another part of the world. I like to think that this has caused some of them to donate to the releif effort.
      Meanwhile starvation in Africa goes unoticed.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday December 09, 2011 @11:08PM (#38322456)
    That's what they get for putting all (or most of) their eggs in one foreign basket.

    I mean, sheesh. It's not like "single point of failure" is an unknown concept or anything.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      they gambled.

      we all lost.

      isn't a totally free market GREAT??

      no one watches out or cares. its just a blind grab for short term revenues. no one thinks long term. no one does, anymore.

      its surprising this hasn't happened *more*.

      silly humans. we can't plan for shit, as a species.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Natural disasters can happen anywhere in the world, it's just a matter of which kind. This is one of the largest floods Thailand has had within 100 years. You really can't plan for such, or otherwise you can't really do anything if you're constantly afraid of something happening. These factories aren't cheap either. Of course, you're always free to start your own factory and "care" more.
        • by Grave (8234) <[moc.liamtoh] [ta] [88treblawa]> on Friday December 09, 2011 @11:37PM (#38322634)

          Actually, you CAN plan for this. By, you know, not putting 75% of the entire world's manufacturing of hard drive motors into a single location.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09, 2011 @11:51PM (#38322744)

            Hopefully this will become a case study for how diversification of supply chain can be immensely profitable - if any one of those companies had split their factories 50/50 with another location, they could basically print money for the next 12 months by undercutting the entire rest of the market by 50% (which would still be above what prices were before the flooding)

            It's amazing how companies don't learn - Toyota & Honda did the exact same thing by having a diverse set of models instead of focusing only on gas-guzzling SUV's, and all of a sudden when gas prices skyrocketed they made a fortune.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Bacon Bits (926911)

              Yeah, but it's a trade off. What if gas prices had fallen? American car companies would have been poised to dominate the market. Or what if, instead of flooding in Thailand, new local resources resulted in 50% lower costs there? You'd have to close your other branches as they would no longer be economical. What if that kind of thing already happened? Maybe there's a reason that geographic location is used for manufacture of hard drives (presence of rare earth elements like neodymium?).

              It's all well an

            • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @06:56AM (#38324366)

              The company that had split their factories 50/50 would already be out of business, because their competitors have a more efficient supply chain, are in a single facility, and thus have been undercutting *them* for the last dozen years. The geographic concentration problem of hard drive manufacturers is a result of cutthroat competition, not something that happened in spite of it.

              In any manufacturing business where margins are incredibly tight (probably 2-3% net margins on average for hard drives and other pure commodity manufacturers of that sort), you can't spend a bit more than the next guy to buck the trend or you will get undercut for Dell's/HP's/etc. business, lose 20% of your gross sales one night, and find you can no longer cover your overhead and suddenly you're out of business.

        • by fnj (64210)

          Certainly disasters can happen almost anywhere, but it's not true that you can't foresee or avoid floods. Don't build your factories in a FUCKING FLOOD PLAIN. Or figure the cost of adequate levees into your plans.

      • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Friday December 09, 2011 @11:23PM (#38322540)

        isn't a totally free market GREAT??

        When you consider that it resulted in a price drop for 2TB HDDs from $250 or so in 2010 to $75 as of 3 months ago, yes, it is great.

        The "spike in prices" is only a spike because of how cheap everything had gotten, and it only got so cheap because of heavy competition. Second guessing things and claiming it would have been better with heavier regulation and restricted ability to outsource is moronic.

        • by Luckyo (1726890) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @12:24AM (#38322916)

          You're confusing "influence of free market" with "influence of technological progress". Former had little to nothing to do with prices of medium going down as technological progress made better technologies and processes available for use.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            You're confusing "influence of free market" with "influence of technological progress". Former had little to nothing to do with prices of medium going down as technological progress made better technologies and processes available for use.

            And, uh, where do you think that technological progress came from? You think the Glorious People's Hard Drive Committee would have delivered $250 3TB hard drives to the world?

      • they gambled.

        we all lost.

        They tried to lower costs and considered the risks, but got zapped anyways. Maybe they learned something. I've enjoyed satisfyingly low prices combined with generous leaps in capacity for years now, so I can't see that I "lost". A year from now, they will be back on the bargain treadmill.

      • by Sloppy (14984) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @01:03AM (#38323056) Homepage Journal

        we all lost.

        No, we didn't. We all won. Even with the price increases, hard disks are available and the price per terabyte is ridiculously cheap. The only people who think they lost, are the whiney bitches who are comparing the prices to what they were a couple months ago. Try comparing the cost to what it was two years ago, and terabytes are slightly cheaper except they also use fewer SATA ports.

        What we're seeing isn't expensiveness; it's volatility. If you can't handle that the prices sometimes vary between "dirt cheap" and "cheaper than dirt," then boo-fucking-hoo. DO NOT make me start sentences with "I remember when," you spoiled little whipper-snapper.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        I was just thinking that the one thing that would help bring hard drive prices back down would be to sprinkle a little government regulation into the mix.

    • by GuruBuckaroo (833982) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @12:12AM (#38322854) Homepage
      Seriously. They should have built a RAID5 of manufacturing plants.
  • by sethstorm (512897) on Friday December 09, 2011 @11:09PM (#38322466) Homepage

    ...when you overly optimize for business friendliness. Perhaps moving everything to the Third World was a bad idea after all.

    • by fnj (64210)

      It wasn't just moving everything to the third world that was stupid. It was moving everything to a single fucking flood plain in one small spot of the third world that was stupid. I think we have found out why real estate was so fucking cheap there.

    • by Artemis3 (85734)

      It had nothing to do with the location, it had to do with placing everything in a single place. It's probably cheaper that way.

      If the plant were in the US and the flooding occurred there, the result would have been the same. Capitalism logic dictates: to maximize profits you need to lower expenses, including wages as much as you can. Especially if you have someone competing with the same product.

      "Third world" (obsolete term without Second world) countries allow lower wages and more exploitation (more workin

  • Might this shortage help spur interest in SSDs?
    • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday December 09, 2011 @11:17PM (#38322506)

      why, because SSD's float?

      (too soon?)

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      That's silly. Even with the current rise in hard drive prices, SSDs are still terribly expensive by comparison. Otherwise, SSDs would have already been seen as competitive against hard drives even before this supply problem.

      Only 2x or 3x for a lot better performance? Not everyone would have jumped on it but there still would have been plenty of performance minded consumers lining up to buy them.

      Even with limited supply, it still makes much more sense to escalate to larger drive sizes before going to SSD.

      • Re:No HHDs = SSDs? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hawguy (1600213) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @12:10AM (#38322844)

        That's silly. Even with the current rise in hard drive prices, SSDs are still terribly expensive by comparison. Otherwise, SSDs would have already been seen as competitive against hard drives even before this supply problem.

        Only 2x or 3x for a lot better performance? Not everyone would have jumped on it but there still would have been plenty of performance minded consumers lining up to buy them.

        Even with limited supply, it still makes much more sense to escalate to larger drive sizes before going to SSD.

        Terribly expensive if you look at price per GB, but not terribly expensive if you're just interested in getting a nice, high performance, low power, quiet drive, and don't need a ton of disk space, then SSD's are quite reasonable.

        Newegg sells a 120GB SSD for about the same price as a 1TB hard disk drive. Most people (well, maybe not the Slashdot crowd) don't need a TB of disk space and the SSD will work quite nicely for them.

        When I upgraded from a 1TB drive to a 64GB SSD in my desktop, I kept the 1TB drive for my large storage needs. It turns out that except for a single DVD that I ripped a few months ago, I haven't stored anything on the 1TB drive, and still have lots of room on the 64GB drive. My 8GB of photos and 12GB of music still leave me lots of room to grow. I imaging that by the time I do outgrow the 64GB drive, I'll be able to buy a 256GB or even 512GB SSD for the same or less price than I paid for the 64GB drive.

        I think the problem that computer manufacturers face is that when a consumer sees a computer with a 500GB hard drive next to one with a 120GB SSD, they are going to go for the 500GB hard drive since bigger numbers are better.

      • That's silly. Even with the current rise in hard drive prices, SSDs are still terribly expensive by comparison.

        It depends on what you are comparing.

        If cost per gigabyte is your main concern then HDDs arround 2TB are still your best bet by far.

        OTOH if you are comparing cost of a system drive for an office desktop things are much closer. A 60GB drive will let you install windows,office etc and still have half free. Looking at my local supplier the cheapest sata HDD* is arround £70 while a 60GB SSD is arround £80.

        In the early days of the crisis there were smaller SATA drives available cheaper but at least a

  • by The Optimizer (14168) on Friday December 09, 2011 @11:22PM (#38322534)

    ... because just before drive production went offline I finally outfitted my new home server with 9TB of storage for just $420. Pretty much my entire life, it's been that once I go and buy some computer hardware, two weeks (or however long the return period is) later, the price is guaranteed to be cut significantly (or a much better version is released).

    Someone needs to check the alignment of the universe.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      Here's hoping that the current batch of drives last long enough for the prices to correct themselves.

      I just bought a bunch of drives myself too. It had been a few years since buying the last batch and seemed like a good time to get ahead of the older batch of aging hard drives.

    • Someone needs to check the alignment of the universe.

      you're right, its out.

      be a dear and find us a left handed monkey wrench.

    • by Macrat (638047)

      I got lucky as well.

      I just happened to have finished over the past year buying 2TB drives during various $69-$89 Fry's Electronics specials.

      I'm currently using ten of them. :-)

  • In unrelated news, my desktop's hard drive just failed 15 minutes ago. Fuck.
    • A client that I perform server maintenance for just had two drives drop out in the same day (one for each server). So two RAID5 containers are now in a degraded state and their out of warranty to boot. Not my fault, I warned and pleaded with them years ago about renewal. Anyways, yes. Drives always seem to go bad at the most inconvenient of times. It's almost a law a nature or something.

  • by feepness (543479) on Friday December 09, 2011 @11:42PM (#38322688) Homepage
    Banks only keep a portion of deposits on hand. This is standard regulated procedure called "Fractional Reserve Lending". No bank can return every despositers funds on demand at the same time. None of them. Anywhere.

    When bank runs occur, there is a systemic lack of funds to meet demand due to fractional reserve lending.

    This is simply not enough supply to meet demand, and not similar to failure of fractional reserve lending at all.
  • 'Akin to the hysteria when banks defaulted in the 1930[s], PC orders across the industry are being placed for which HD supply does not exist,

    This is not even remotely "akin".

  • And in other news (Score:5, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @12:05AM (#38322818)

    Western Digital has restarted HDD production in Thailand earlier than expected.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericsavitz/2011/12/02/western-digital-lifts-dec-qtr-view-restarts-thai-mfg-shrs-up/ [forbes.com]

    • by Guppy (12314) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @12:21AM (#38322894)

      Western Digital has restarted HDD production in Thailand earlier than expected.

      I'd definitely be a little careful about the first few batches of new drives that come off those assembly lines, considering all the decontamination, repair and re-calibration the flooded manufacturing equipment would have needed. Would be interesting to know if there's going to be a bump in their drive rate failure over the next few years for Western Digital, Hitachi, and Toshiba.

      • by whoever57 (658626)

        I'd definitely be a little careful about the first few batches of new drives that come off those assembly lines,

        I'm not sure how you would tell. I had a WD drive fail after a few hours of use last year and its replacement will consistently fail after about 900GB is written. According to the SMART data it is perfect, but irrespective of the enclosure it is in, or the cables used, or the host it is connected to, I get I/O failures after writing ~900GB of data (on a 1TB drive).

      • by fnj (64210) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @01:21AM (#38323176)

        It's hard to predict, but it's also possible the quality will take a jump upward because the equipment is freshly reconditioned or certified.

  • by paleo2002 (1079697) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @12:06AM (#38322828)
    My first computer had a 256Mb hard drive that stored the OS, applications, files, AND had room left to turn on virtual memory. And I had to walk uphill in the snow to buy floppy disks!

    It used to be that if you didn't need a file any more you deleted it. If your disk filled up, you didn't just buy a new one. Aside from graphics, recording, and IT professionals, does anyone really need much more than a few hundred gigs? Or do that many people insist on digitizing their entire DVD library?
  • This is an opportunity...

  • What will Microsoft et al do without a constant supply of itsy-bitsy hyper-overpriced drives to shove into consoles? Will they be forced to buy cheaper 1TB drives off the shelf of Walmart and partition them down to a size that sounds great to a gamer and laughable to everyone else?

  • hmm (Score:4, Interesting)

    by strack (1051390) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @05:21AM (#38324030)
    if only there was some sort of technology that could elevate the extremely high value factory above any sort of flood. i think i have the solution. i call it a 'hill'

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein

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