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By | Chris Mellor 24th October 2011 14:02

Tosh Thai hard drive plant swamped

Floods spark further disk drought woe

Toshiba is facing a long-term shutdown of its Thai disk drive plant due to more than a metre of water in the factory.

The waterlogged fab is in the Navanakorn Industrial Estate Zone, next door to a flooded Western Digital plant. Toshiba said the depth of water has damaged machinery in the assembly line. It is working to prepare alternative production at other facilities but that is obviously going to be limited by capacity.

The Thai government has ordered all employees to be evacuated from the industrial zone as the silt-laden water is free to do the maximum damage it can. Flooding threatening Thai capital Bangkok and 350 people have been reported dead since the end of July.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Aaron Rakers estimates that the global hard disk drive industry will only be able to make 105 to 115 million drives in the quarter to the end of December due to the terribly destructive flooding in Thailand, with stocks of 15 million drives pegging total HDD availability at 120 to 130 million drives. Industry demand is for 170 to 180 million; a shortfall of 50 million, which will spark price increases and shortages.

This may provide an opportunity for flash vendors to sell more capacity, either as PCIe flash cards, flash memory arrays or solid state drives, but available flash production capacity is not capable of substituting flash gigabytes for the lost HDD gigabytes even if cost was not an issue. ®

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