Western Digital's acquisition of SanDisk is evidence of Western Digital's plans of becoming an SSD giant in the post-HDD world.
Micron, Intel and Samsung are (likely) all building significant new capacity for 3D NAND that begins production in 2016 and 2017. Big demand for SSDs is coming soon.
The HDD in 10 years will be what the floppy disk is today for young children - technology that will only be seen in history books (more like e-books).
With Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) now set to acquire NAND manufacturer SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK), the foggy technology roadmap for Western Digital (and the HDD (Hard Disk Drive) in general) is starting to become clear. Sales at Western Digital and Seagate (NASDAQ:STX) peaked in the 2012-13 timeframe and have since started to taper off by single-digit percentages annually. Talk of the "death of the PC" and by extension, "death of the HDD," has been discussed for years. However, HDD sales at the two giants of the industry have only dipped a bit (pun intended) in the last two years. The era of a slow decline in HDD sales is coming to an end soon. If the NAND manufacturers are not wildly off in their predictions, HDD sales are about to experience enormous drops within 3 years.
Western Digital's desire to acquire SanDisk is simple to understand - Western Digital needs to find a source of revenue in its post-HDD era. SanDisk is the cost leader in production of planar NAND flash, the NVM (non-volatile memory) that serves as the underlying technology that allows for the storage of data in SSDs (Solid State Drives). Relative to HDDs, SSDs are faster, more durable, weigh less and consume less power (and therefore emit less heat). In a nutshell, virtually all performance metrics of SSDs (that do not involve cost) are significantly better than those of HDDs. Unsurprisingly, everyone who has followed the storage industry knows with certainty that SSDs will eventually completely replace HDDs. The only question that remains is "When will it happen"?
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