Hard Drive Capacity Could Increase to 60TB by 2016, IHS iSuppli Says

Remember when hard drive capacities were measured in megabytes instead of gigabytes? Perhaps you can recall using cassette tapes to store your data. Those digital dark ages are long gone, and today's hard drives are much more capacious, but with solid state drives coming down in price, are HDDs on their last legs? Not by a long shot.

IHS iSuppli says maximum areal densities in HDDs are expected to more than double during the five-year period from 2011 to 2016, climbing to a maximum 1,800 Gigabits (Gb) per square inch per platter, up from 744 Gb per square inch in 2011. This tremendous growth is being fueled by more demanding video and audio storage requirements.

Image Source: Western Digital

"The rise in areal density will pave the way for continued growth of the HDD industry," said Fang Zhang, analyst for storage systems at IHS. "Densities will double during the next five years, despite technical difficulties associated with the perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology now used to create higher-areal-density hard disks. In particular, growth opportunities will lie in applications associated with mass enterprise storage requirements, gaming, and in digital video recorders (DVRs) where massive capacity is required to store high-definition video."

There are new developments on the way, such as heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR). If it takes off, the highest capacity for 3.5-inch HDDs could reach 30TB to 60TB, while 2.5-inch HDDs could reach as high as 10TB to 20TB, all by 2016, IHS iSuppli says.