Q&A: Hitachi GST CEO says hard drive future hangs in cloud


If you look at the biggest market --the notebook market -- and look at client SSDs versus hard drives, even three to five years from now, SSDs will be less than 10% of the mix. You'll probably see a combination including hybrid drives that blend flash and hard drives.

If you look at the [drop in cost] of flash and hard drives, we're both on a similar trend. We're on roughly a 25% [cost per gigabyte reduction annually] in both MLC flash and hard drives. So the gap really isn't closing. You're going to see both of those offerings continue to exist for quite a while. And, most of our big [systems equipment manufacturers] agree with that.

Milligan: I think where you're correct in that there are alternative devices that are consuming data and utilizing flash memory as opposed to notebook devices that may be using hard drives.

We've really tried to run hard towards the cloud. If we were to sit back and say our growth opportunity is in traditional compute platforms that use hard drives, we would be wrong. Are there still growth opportunities there? Yes. Is it more muted than in the past? Yes, because of alternative devices consuming all this data. So where we really see the value creation ... is the evolving storage ecosystem that's been moving to the cloud.

Will notebooks even be around in five years with tablets growing the way they are. Collins: If you look at emergence of edge devices, which would include smartphones and iPads, you cannot put all your photos or your music on there. You tend to put it on there temporarily, which means mass storage device tends to be somewhere else. These [smartphones and tablets] tend to be complementary devices, not displacing primary storage devices like notebooks and desktops. It has clearly had an impact on the growth of notebooks, but they will continue to co-exist.