Western Digital closes another HDD plant due to lower demand
The former Western Digital hard drive factory in the Bayan Lepas industrial zone, Penang (Malaysia), is for sale in 2017. Now it's the turn of the next plant
. This week, Western Digital announced plans to shut down a hard drive assembly plant in Petaling Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). Release HDD will stop until the end of 2019. In a sense, this is a symbolic event. Although WD still has two hard drive factories, this particular factory has been operating for several decades, almost a quarter of a century.
It seems that the era of HDD is gradually becoming a thing of the past.
Western Digital came to Malaysia in 1973, starting with semiconductor manufacturing. In 1994, the local plant was converted for the manufacture of hard drives: this was easier to do because the clean room was initially functioning there. Since then, the company in Petaling Jaya has become one of the largest HDD manufactures in the world, employing about 13,000 people. Surely, many users of Habr have ever installed a WD hard drive with a note “Made in Malaysia” in their computer, or maybe someone has installed one now.
In 2016, HGST Technologies Malaysia - a subsidiary of WD - has already closed one Malaysian HDD plant in the Bayan Lepas industrial zone, Penang city. In February last year, the land along with the remaining buildings were put up for sale .
HGST, formerly known as Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, was formed after the merger of IBM and Hitachi hard drives. Western Digital bought it in 2012. All these market movements also indicate a contraction of the market. Actually, this trend is confirmed by market statistics.
The total volume of the hard drive market in 2017 decreased to 400 million units compared to 550 million units in 2014. As a result, in recent years, both Seagate and Western Digital have reduced their hard drive capacity. Last year, Seagate closed a plant in Suzhou, China, and Western Digital closed a leading plate manufacturing plant in Odawara, Japan in 2016.
The closure of the plant in Petaling Jaya is a natural consequence of what is happening in the market. Demand for HDD drops, and increases for SSD. Now only the most advanced store terabytes of files on a home computer. Many ordinary users generally abandon personal computers in favor of smartphones.
Western Digital says that the hard drive market has been declining in recent years - and this trend will continue in the future, so additional production capacity is not needed.
Western Digital is one of the few “vertically integrated” HDD manufacturers. The company independently manufactures absolutely all components of hard drives, from magnetic substrates and plates to flexible head slider with slider plates (Head Gimbal Assembly, HGA) and magnetic head assembly blocks (Head Stack Assembly, HSA). Naturally, she also performs final assembly and testing.
Western Digital currently has three hard drive factories left: the largest is located in Bangpain (Thailand), the second largest is in Petaling Jaya (Malaysia), and the third is in Prachinburi (Thailand). However, only the largest of them is more or less vertically integrated and produces not only hard drives, but also many components.
But the full care of the HDD in the past to speak prematurely. On the contrary, hard drive sales are increasing in some sectors . In particular, the market for high-capacity HDDs for data centers is growing. Therefore, neither Western Digital nor Seagate plans to limit the production of these products.
“In response to the decline in long-term demand for consumer hard drives, Western Digital has taken steps to rationalize its HDD operations around the world,” Western Digital said in a statement. Instead of manufacturing hard drives, the company will expand its SSD production. In particular, in the coming months, the operation of another SSD assembly plant in Penang will begin.
С технической точки зрения сборка SSD — более простое производство. Здесь не используются такие высокие технологии, как при сборке HDD или в производстве NAND.