Sunday, December 5

In 1956 the GB of hard disk went to 9.2 million dollars, but in 2020 the price does not even reach two cents

Obviously in 1956 there were no disks of that capacity, and the IBM 350-I drives with 24-inch disks had a capacity of 3.75 Mbytes and cost $ 34,500. The account is easy: the MB came out to 9,200 dollars, and -if it had been available- the GB would come out to more than 9 million dollars of the time.

Sixty years later we have seen how the power of our computers has multiplied exponentially, but so has the capacity of storage systems, something that has also caused prices to plummet. Today the cost per GB on traditional hard drives is just $ 0.02But there are even more striking advances in an ever-moving market.

Gigabytes of rebates

Many are the studies that have analyzed the price of different storage units over the years. One of the most complete is that the one they maintain en Mkomo, or that of JCMit, where they show a evolution of the prices of different units over the years.

The latter is more complete, and for example studies that evolution in hard drives since they appeared in 1956. The growth of storage capacities has been inversely proportional to price per GB, and the leaps in technology have been staggering not only in storage capacity, but of course in access times, durability, and of course transfer speeds.

Storage at a bargain price: the evolution of the cost per GB in HDD and SSD

In fact that image with the prices that a 5 MB drive had in 1981 – no less than $ 2,898 – is a good example that not long ago hard drives were something exceptional: if you are around 40 or over you will surely have some anecdote to share in this regard, and I remember my first own computer with a 40 MB hard drive. .. in 1992.

Today prices have fallen even more exaggeratedly in various storage systems: we will talk about it too, but if we restrict ourselves to hard drives the cost it comes down to less than two cents per GB.


An 8 TB 5,400 RPM Seagate drive – not the fastest on the market, of course – is priced at $ 149.99 today, and the data was confirmed by, for example, the cloud storage company BackBlaze, which often provides interesting reports on your hard drive usage and also showed that clear evolution in the last decade.

SSD drives have been the other revolution

As we said, there has not only been a revolution in prices, but also at a technological level: advances in traditional hard drives, which have been – and many – have been overshadowed by the revolution raised by solid state drives.


The Corsair MP600 SSD with PCIe 4.0 support reaches 5 GB / s of transfer. It runs so much that it includes a heatsink to avoid overheating problems.

The launch of this type of unit has allowed us to achieve a spectacular jump in transfer speeds, but it is also that these speeds have also been progressively improved with new formats that went from the traditional SATA connector to PCI Express connectors in M.2 format.

SATA, we don't love you anymore: the M.2 standard is the present and future of SSD drives

The improvements in the technologies involved in the field of SSD drives have been frantic. The NAND memories Utilities have been improving and developments like 3D XPoint used in Intel Optane solutions have gone one step further.

Other manufacturers have also proposed various improvements that have allowed higher recording density, which in turn has made SSD drives overcome their old and clear limitation, which was capacity, and today we already have relatively affordable 1TB drives, something unthinkable a few years ago.

Ssd Hdd

The price per TB (not per GB) is very similar with “small” drives, but as the capacity increases it is clear that it is much more cost-effective to buy a traditional hard drive if we are looking for storage space. Source: TheSSDGuy

The cost per GB is in fact not very far from hard drives if we go to lower capacities (around 500 GB), but that difference continues to exist as we look for more capacity drives. If that’s our priority, the traditional hard drive is still the best optionBut it is always possible to combine an SSD with a large capacity hard drive to have the best of both worlds.

Putting a NAS at home has been one of the best technology decisions I have made in my entire life

That evolution has a splendid future ahead of it: we now enjoy interfaces like NMVe that help achieve transfer speeds of up to 3,500 MB / s in the best cases, when a SATA III drive can reach a theoretical maximum of 600MB / s.


The cost per TB in this projection indicates that in 2023 the price of SSD units will already be identical to that of traditional hard drives, although here we should consider that the latter will always offer advantages if we are looking for storage capacity. Magnetic tapes, by the way, are still an option in certain settings, especially business ones.

However, these speeds will increase thanks to the arrival of the PCIe 4.0 standard, already supported by AMD and that is surely the secret of those ultra-fast units that both Microsoft and Sony have promised for their next-generation consoles in 2020.

SSD reliability myths and facts: their lifespan is (probably) longer than you expected

The first SSD drives available for PCs with this standard achieve transfer rates of 5 GB / s read and 4.4 GB / s readFigures of madness that are in fact only the beginning of a new exceptional qualitative leap. The price of these drives is 10 times higher than the traditional hard drive (a 1TB Saber Rocket costs $ 200, so the cost per GB is 20 cents), but those looking for the maximum performance surely do not hesitate.

What is clear is how much it has rained in the field of storage. Long live the technological evolution.

Image | Markus spiske

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