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In Q2 2021, HDDs have shown a positive dynamic after underperforming in recent years. The big three HDD suppliers (Western Digital, Toshiba, Seagate) shipped a record 350.7 exabytes. The demand mainly came from exascale data centers, operators, and Chia miners.

Seagate is still at the top of the pile, with the highest number of exabytes shipped and HDDs produced.

Western Digital came in a close second, almost catching up with its arch-rival in the second quarter.

The estimated figures

In the second quarter of 2021, HDD shipments hit 67.6 million units, according to Trendfocus and data by companies. Nidec, the world’s largest independent producer of motors for hard drives, estimated that the industry shipped about 64 million units in Q2 2021, compared to 63 million in Q1.

The difference in estimates can’t be explained for now, since two out of the three HDD suppliers do not publish detailed unit shipments and only one publishes the exabytes shipped. The numbers you see are usually educated guesses analysts base on the available information.

When analyzing the performance, we have to rely on data from the companies where possible for accurate figures.

Hot on Seagate’s heels

Seagate shipped 28.17 million drives and 152.3 exabytes in Q2 2021. The sales were up only 2.3% from the previous quarter. Western Digital posted better numbers, indicating a 9.2% increase in units shipped, to hit 25.4 million.

That was almost enough to catch up with Seagate in terms of exabytes shipped (WD shipped 148.43 exabytes), according to Trendfocus data.

WD looks even more impressive in terms of HDD capacity. In Q2, it shipped 6.13TB per drive, compared to Seagate’s 5.67TB, up from 4.72TB.