From 4K video to next generation gaming, today’s consumers expect devices to handle large files and applications with ease, be it tablets, smartphones or personal computers. These growing demands have spurred a need for increased capacity, both in secondary storage, responsible for the long-term archiving of data, and primary storage, known as random access memory (RAM). However, for both consumers and businesses, the trend has not simply been towards upgraded onboard capacity, with the market impacted by the rise of cloud storage solutions and the more efficient use of RAM.
SSDs becoming the standard for device storage
Hard disk drives, once the dominant technology in data storage, are on the decline. Global shipments of HDD units fell just short of 259 million in 2021 , down from a peak of 650 million in 2012. HDDs are being replaced by faster and more reliable solid-state drives (SDDs) on modern computers and laptops, with SSDs utilizing NAND flash technology as opposed to a moving platter. The global NAND market saw almost 14 billion dollars in revenue in the third quarter of 2022, with Samsung being the leading manufacturer.
Though SSDs are becoming the standard on many devices, the urgency among consumers and business users for increased on board capacity has been reduced by the availability of effective cloud solutions. Apple users, for example, are able to sync their sync their high resolution iPhone photographs to the firm’s iCloud service, while many businesses are looking to services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) to store large volumes of company data. The impact of cloud storage is reflected in retail sales of physical storage devices, with yearly shipments hitting a plateau of around 2.6 billion units in recent years, having fallen from over 3 billion in 2014.
RAM becomes more efficient
Since devices require RAM to be directly accessible to function, the market for device memory has not been impacted by the adoption of cloud services. However, the need for increased RAM capacity has been slowed by advancements in the way in which RAM is used. In particular, device manufacturers such as Apple have opted for a Unified Memory Architecture (UMA) in their laptops and computers, in which RAM is part of a single package along with the central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU). This enables the more efficient allocation of memory, meaning that, in theory, greater performance can be achieved on the same amount of RAM. The market size for memory semiconductors was estimated to be worth around 134 billion U.S. dollars in 2022, with forecasts anticipating a fall to around 112 billion in 2023.
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