Western Digital ready for hybrid drives?

By on January 25, 2012
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Finds them “very compelling”.

Western Digital announced their 2nd quarter 2012 results, with sales of $2bn, compared to $2,5bn from a year earlier. The mere 20% decrease in sales is quite remarkable considering how badly WD’s manufacturing plants were hit during last year’s Thailand floods. In fact, WD did indeed ship almost half the hard drives shipped in the same period last year, with 28.5 million drives in Q2 2012 compared to 52.2 million drives in Q2 2011. Despite this, increase in prices and gross profit margins lead to profits of $145m, compared to $225m last year.

While discussing these earnings call, WD’s CEO, John F. Coyne was asked about ultrabooks and what medium storage will be used in them, given the heavy push from Intel and other OEMs. “I expect ultrabooks to have both hard drives, traditional hard drives and hybrid hard drives and SSDs. So I think there will be, depending on the specific version of ultrabook, you will see all 3 solutions and even in certain models, choices between those solutions in the same model, ” said Coyne (via transcript at Seeking Alpha).

And we think that the SSD penetration profile will be in very low single digits in a mature ultrabook environment. And then we see an emerging position for hybrids a little early to develop a view on exactly what percentage of penetration, but we see hybrids as a very compelling alternative on the performance side to solid state on bang for the buck. And we anticipate that in large capacity environments, traditional hard drives will continue to be the compelling solution.”

One of the biggest reasons we don’t find Seagate’s Momentus XT in many notebooks as a default, or even optional HDD is because Seagate is the only manufacturer making hybrid drives; nobody else in the industry is making them. The critical mass for hybrid drives hasn’t been achieved simply because there is only one supplier in the market. With WD entering the foray of hybrid drives, the landscape for traditional hard drives could change very soon.

You can check out our review of the latest Momentus XT drive to see how fast it is compared to traditional HDDs vs SSDs.


From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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