Hard Drive Shortages to Drive Up Cost of Video Editing

Videoguys.com by Gary Bettan

Over the past year the hard drive producers have been hit by a one-two punch that has them scrambling to find ways to produce enough hard drives to satisfy demand. Hard drives prices are expected to jump up by 20% or more over the next week, with no end in sight.

Back in March the Japanese earthquake and Tsunami created massive supply chain issues. While no hard drive production facilities were directly effected, several plants that produced key components such as circuit boards were destroyed. This created spot shortages in the drive business while hard drive manufacturers had to scramble to work around these issues. It appeared that the worst was over and that by the end of the year, production would be back up.

Then this October another natural disaster struck Asia. Thailand has been hit by massive flooding. Thailand as a country is the second-largest manufacturer of drives in the world. Western Digital, Hitachi, Seagate, Toshiba and Samsung all have a significant portion of their production coming out of Thailand. Thailand has ground to a halt. It could take another 4-6 weeks until the flood waters recede. While most of the finished goods were pulled out in time, the same can't be said for the facilities themselves.

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Over the past week we have been talking to our drive vendors and the news is bad, really bad. Hard drives assembly lines are modern marvels, with automation, robotics and extremely expensive machines working in highly controlled environments. Some factories are wiped out, others have severe water damage. Attempts to move equipment and assembly lines to higher ground resulted in damages that may or may not be repairable. Key parts suppliers have been hit just as hard, Nidec Corp which makes hard drive motors had one of their Ayutthaya plant (pictured) swamped under several feet of water. It's a mess, and some are expecting supply to fall as much as 35% below forecast - which in this day and age of computerized just in time manufacturing, equals demand.

How does this effect video editors?

Right in your pocketbook. While there are some supplies of drives already in the US, we've been told by our vendors across the board to expect major shortages and higher prices in Q4. How much higher you ask? We don't know yet, but the impact will be felt initially in lower capacity drives. For us that means that external RAIDs based on 1TB drives are going to get hit first. We've had problems getting 2TB G-RAIDs since the summer, we were able to get 2TB GT062E RAIDs from Glyph, but now that supply has dried up. At this point we are pulling both Glyph and G-Tech 2TB external RAIDs from our website - indefinitely.

While it looks like we'll be able to get RAIDs based on 2TB and 3TB drives, that too will become problematic over the next 4-6 weeks. If you are planning on purchasing an external RAID solution for your NLE system, do it NOW! Take advantage of whatever pricing and availability exists in the market. Prices will move up without notice as supply fails to keep up with demand.

Note: For now it appears that Enterprise class hard drives are not being effected as much. So external RAID solutions based on Enterprise class drives such as G-Tech G-Speeds will have some pricing stability. This of course is subject to change on a moments notice.

Is it time for SSDs?

That's a great question and one that we will have to watch very closely. Right now a 256GB SSD from Crucial costs around $400, while an Intel 300GB will cost you just over $500. Even if the price of a 7200RPM 1TB drive doubles to $250 or more, I still can't see going with SSD. Now if we see 500GB or larger SSD drives fall to around $500, I would say it's time to switch. There are significant benefits to going with an SSD drive as your boot drive. Boot up times are blazing fast, programs open instantly, and you don't have to ever worry about your disk drive becoming a bottleneck in your system.

What about SSDs for your video storage?

I think at this point they are still to small and expensive. This too may change because of the higher prices and shortages expected through year end. Just like with memory, as bigger sizes come out, they drive down the price of smaller sized SSDs. DRAMATICALLY! You can find 64GB SSDs for around a hundred bucks. What if 128GB SSDs fall to $100? Then you could stripe 5 of them together in a RAID5 configuration and have 500GB of blazing fast, redundant storage for around $500! Or go with a RAID0 and get 640GB!! Of course you'll need to throw in an external enclosure which will add couple hundred more. But think about it, every time a bigger size of SSD drives falls to $100, you can double or triple your capacity for $500! I'm looking for a company that can deliver a 5 bay 2.5" SSD external enclosure for just this purpose to offer on Videoguys.

Buy now - before prices jump higher!!

I can't stress this enough: If you think you are going to need to purchase more storage for your NLE solution, DO IT NOW! Prices are only going to go up. With shortages rippling though the industry you won't be able to tell where or when the increases will occur. When we run out of a particular drive, you could see ridiculous price swings. We simply can't control it and neither can the drive manufacturers themselves. Companies that buy drives and integrate them into external solutions will have the biggest swings. If they run out of a particular drive capacity, the replacement drives could end up costing them twice as much!

Videoguys is doing everything possible to secure as many RAID drives as possible at current price levels from our vendors. Here are links back directly to our G-Tech and Glyph product pages at Videoguys.com

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