Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Another good prediction

After patting myself on the back about one good prediction, here is another. Ever since Dave Anderson's presentation to the 2009 Storage Architecture meeting at the Library of Congress, I've been arguing that for flash to displace disk as the bulk storage medium would require flash vendors to make such enormous investments in new fab capacity that there would be no possibility of making an adequate return on the investments. Since the vendors couldn't make money on the investment, they wouldn't make it, and flash would not displace disk. 6 years later, despite the arrival of 3D flash that is still the case.

Source: Gartner & Stifel
Chris Mellor at The Register has the story in a piece entitled Don't want to fork out for NAND flash? You're not alone. Disk still rules. Its summed up in this graph, showing the bytes shipped by flash and disk vendors.It shows that the total bytes shipped is growing rapidly, but the proportion that is flash is about stable. Flash is:
expected to account for less than 10 per cent of the total storage capacity the industry will need by 2020.
Stifel estimates that:
Samsung is estimated to be spending over $23bn in capex on its 3D NAND for for an estimated ~10-12 exabytes of capacity.
If it is fully ramped-in by 2018 it will make about 1% of what the disk manufacturers will that year. So the investment to replace that capacity would be $2.3T, which clearly isn't going to happen. Unless the investment to make a petabyte of flash per year is much less than the investment to make a petabyte of disk, disk will remain the medium of choice for bulk storage.

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