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Number of HDDs Shipped Worldwide From 1976 to 2018

Increasing each year until 2010 and then declining constantly

This invaluable chart shows the number of HDDs shipped for more than 40 years and the birth of the industry until to 2018 as well as estimations from 2019 to 2022.

Sources are Disk/Trend from 1976 to 2001, Trendfocus from 2002 to 2022 with the exception of IDC for 2009.

Total units shipped since 1976 is a little more than 9 billion! But the installed base is much less than that as a great number of them disappears or breaks down, and a lot of them was replaced by higher capacity devices.

Since the beginning these figures below were always growing until 2010 with a small decrease in 2001 for worldwide economical reasons, and began to constantly decline (but for 2014) until 2018. CAGR for the global period remains high: +24%. But it was +26.5% until 2010 but then -9.4% from 2010 to 2018.

The previsions from 2019 to 2022 shows that this trend will continue mainly because of the SSD competition, the last market for magnetic disk drive market becoming very high capacity 3.5-inch HDDs continuing to have a lower price per gigabyte than silicon memories, and for several years if the areal density of HDDs continues to increase even if it’s also the case for SSDs with higher and higher capacity of integrated chips.

Now 500GB HDDs compete in price with SSDs and HDD manufacturers are progressively stopping to produce devices of 1TB and less.

7,200rpm drives will be the rule in the future, 5,400rpm ones diminishing as well as all the units with other rotational speeds, especially enterprise 10,000rpm decreasing and 15,000rpm enterprise HDDs disappearing as their prices are too high and capacities too low..

But total exabytes shipped will continue to go up as well as average capacity per drive, and global revenue slightly increasing according to Trendfocus, with total number of devices shipped going down regularly, not 3.5-inch but 2.5-inch devices..

Number of HDDs shipped in the world in thousands
Click to enlarge

(Source: compilation of StorageNewsletter.com of figures from analyst companies Disk/Trend, IDC, and Trendfocus)

Here are some milestones on the subject: HDD, form factors and revolutions per minute:

  • First HDD (1956): IBM 305 Ramac, 4.4MB, 50 24-inches disks, $50,000
  • First 3.5-inch HDD (1983): Rodime RO352, 10MB
  • First 2.5-inch HDD (1988): PrairieTek 220, 20MB
  • First 7,200rpm HDD (1992): Seagate Barracuda, 2.1GB
  • First 10,000rpm HDD (1996): Seagate Cheetah family, 36GB
  • First 15,000rpm HDD (2000): Seagate Cheetah X15, 18GB