Hard drives could be about to get more expensive – and we have AI to blame

Here’s some bad news for those looking at buying a new hard drive – prices are about to rise, by the looks of things.

And that holds true even for consumer hard drives, even though this news – which comes via a report from analyst firm TrendForce – relates to large capacity hard drives in the immediate future.

TrendForce observes that there’s a demand for high-capacity HDD (Hard Disk Drive) products being driven by AI, and that’s worsened by reduced production levels from manufacturers – skewing the supply and demand balance heavily towards the latter.

As ever in these cases, this leads to price rises, and a letter from Seagate’s top brass is furnished as clear evidence of this. Indeed, the letter states that Seagate is bringing in price increases for its hard drives immediately, and that another factor in play causing this is global inflationary pressures.

Seagate observes that it expects supply constraints to continue with HDDs going forward, and prices will rise in future quarters even more due to this.

There are some other factors to consider here. Firstly, TrendForce points out a report from TechNews (a Taiwanese site), where industry sources claim that ongoing limited supply for higher capacity hard drives could persist throughout the entire year, and that HDD prices are set to rise by 5% to 10% in Q2 2024.

On top of that, there’s also the recent news from Western Digital, another huge force in the world of hard drives, which made a similar announcement about the cost of hard drives going up in the near future.

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Analysis: Hard bargains soon to be thin on the ground?

It should be noted that while these price hikes are for AI-targeted hard drives – meaning models with very large capacities – demand for these will inevitably affect smaller drives, as big manufacturers look to reprioritize and capitalize on the profits to be had in the booming artificial intelligence arena.

So, we’d expect prices across the board to be ticking up for hard drives, especially considering that Western Digital talked about higher demand recently, as mentioned, and specifically indicated rises would happen across its entire portfolio of hard drives – large and small.

For those of you thinking that AI is all about GPUs, so – what gives here? Well, it is, when it comes to processing anyway, and providing the raw grunt to answer queries – but it’s also about managing huge sets of data trawled from the wider web to train the AI. And where does that data go? It’s stored on hard drives – large ones, and tons of them. Hence the spike in storage demand here, and the knock-on effect on smaller HDD models as observed.

Compounding the misery for the PC components market is that elsewhere in the storage world, SSD pricing is also increasing, and has been for a while now.

The upshot of which is that if you’re mulling an upgrade (or indeed a new PC build), whatever storage you’re looking at buying – hard drive or SSD, or maybe both – you’d be best off making a move sooner rather than later. There are still decent SSD deals out there, after all – and hard drive bargains too, but those current price levels may not last that much longer.

Via Tom’s Hardware

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