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HDD Price Update: How the Thai Floods Have Affected Prices, 3 Months Later

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the leveling-off dept.

Data Storage 220

New submitter jjslash writes "The hard disk drive supply chain was hit hard late last year when a series of floods struck Thailand. The Asian country accounts for about a quarter of the world's hard drive production, but thousands of factories had to close shop for weeks as facilities were under water, in what is considered the world's fourth costliest natural disaster according to World Bank estimates. That's on top of the human cost of over 800 lives. TechSpot has monitored a number of mobile and desktop HDDs to get a better overview of how the situation has developed in the last three months."

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Why the "but"? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964131)

the Asian country accounts for about a quarter of the world's hard drive production, but thousands of factories had to close shop for weeks as facilities

"and" would be better as "but" implies that there's some sort of twist.

Re:Why the "but"? (-1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964189)

Thank you failed English teacher, what else do you feel qualified to judge but lack the skills to do so officially?

Re:Why the "but"? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964349)

The AC was correct; why are you being belligerent?

Copy-editing is a legitimate job, and the need for more copy-editors is made clear by the prevalence of obvious grammatical errors in major publications. The trouble with being a copy-editor is that your employment depends on the ability of others to admit their faults; people like you illustrate why any form of employment which relies on honest self-reflection is doomed.

Re:Why the "but"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964599)

Except that it is not a mistake here. They are not really doing about 1/4 of the production when the factories are closed, thus making "but" maybe not best style but correct and probably better than "and".
The only really good style would probably have been to completely rework the sentence to something like "With it accounting for 1/4..., the thousands of factories that had to close had a major impact..." - well, at least it would be better style if someone with better language skills than me wrote it.

Re:Why the "but"? (1, Funny)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964687)

Well if they only counted for 1/4th of the production and the price is marked up over 100% I think an investigation is in order because i smell price gouging. while it is to be expected they'd make the consumers pay the cost of fixing the factories 100%-200% over the original price (which they certainly weren't losing money on) makes me smell a little collusion and price fixing. After all if there wasn't any price fixing one company could undercut the others and pretty much own the market, especially with the OEMs. Now that is BIG business and BIG profits so the fact they are ALL setting at almost identical prices? yeah i smell a rat.

But I would like to give a big shout out to Samsung because while i fricking hate the fact they sold their HDD business along with Hitachi because those were my big two go to brands, especially for business and industrial, because they sold out when they did for once in my fricking life i was ahead of the curve and not behind! when i heard they were quitting I bought Samsung ecodrives at $35 for a Tb and $59 for 2Tb and made a nice bit of cash and still had enough drives to make sure i could wait this mess out. I got burnt on DVD, paying $200 for a drive that 6 months later was less than $60, got burnt on my last Intel CPU when i paid too much only to have them abandon the socket and leave me with no upgrade path, but for once i actually came out ahead of the curve, thanks Samsung!

BTW if you need a big drive even at the higher prices i can recommend the Samsung Ecodrive most heartily. I've used them on factory floors and in construction shacks where they get horribly abused and they just come back for more, and any you find on the market in those sizes will be from the last two batches which were particularly good. with that nice fat 32mb of cache I went from a bench of 93 on a Seagate 7200 RPM with 8Mb of cache to nearly 140 on the 1Tb Ecodrive, fast enough i'm using the Eco as a boot drive on all my machines as well as storage and I can tell a difference in the speed thanks to the bigger cache. Oh and the temps made a HUGE drop, from 121-128F under load for the Seagate to a max 98f under load and an idle temp of just 82f compared to nearly 100f for the Seagate. damned shame there won't be any more but sitting on 6Tb I think I can afford to just let this whole mess go on by, thanks again Samsung!

Re:Why the "but"? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964967)

Well if they only counted for 1/4th of the production and the price is marked up over 100% I think an investigation is in order because i smell price gouging.

What you should investigate is this concept called price elasticity of demand: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_elasticity_of_demand [wikipedia.org]
http://www.khanacademy.org/video/price-elasticity-of-demand?topic=microeconomics [khanacademy.org]
Once you've understood that, you also have to realize they still have to pay the wages of many staff, plus other overheads (interest on loans from banks) despite the X% drop in sales.

Before this disaster hard drive manufacturers were NOT making a lot of money from each hard drive they sell - tell me in which other industry could you buy a device with high tech, high precision, high speed moving parts with rare earth metals, that can operate nonstop, spinning at 7200 rpm for a few years with zero maintenance- no lube changes, no adjustments, with a three year warranty, for USD60 or less?

Now because of the shortage prices went up, there were fewer drives to go around, so to try to make as much money to pay for their costs (or not lose so much money) they charged higher. But charging higher means fewer customers will be willing to pay the higher prices. So the rest of the customers who REALLY NEED those drives and are the only ones willing to buy will have to pay even more. Or maybe decide they don't really need those drives that much. So the hard drive sellers and buyers will have to see who blinks first. If enough buyers blink and buy, then the price stays high.

That's how it works, you'd do the same thing too if you wanted to stay in business.

As for me, I'm playing my part by not buying yet... I might save up to buy an SSD instead ;).

Re:Why the "but"? (2, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965171)

Well if they only counted for 1/4th of the production and the price is marked up over 100% I think an investigation is in order because i smell price gouging.

What I'm detecting from your direction whiffs more like complete economic ignorance.

Looks like it's getting better... (3, Interesting)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964133)

NewEgg is actually having sales on something besides "recertfied" drives.

Quick summary (5, Informative)

UPi (137083) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964287)

Prices are still high, but not as much as they were at the peak last November. Instead of 80-190% above the pre-flood prices, they are now 60-90% up.

This probably should've been part of the article summary.

Re:Quick summary (1, Informative)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964445)

Still far too high to upgrade; I can wait out the year with the storage space I currently have.

I am not going to pay ~$175 for 'Intellipower' / 5900 RPM 2 TB drives, when I have a few 7200 RPM 1.5 TB drives already installed (which I picked up for ~$120 / drive at the time). Perhaps when I see some 7200 RPM 3 TB drives for a nicer price, I might be moved to upgrade. However, as it stands, I've already figured that this year will not have the price offering I want...so, I'll wait until next year when 7200 RPM 4 TB (or possibly something better) drives are probably in vogue.

Let's see here...3 1.5 TB hard drives, a 240 GB SSD drive, and a Blu-Ray burner, with a top bookshelf just filled with spindles of various recording media I rarely even use...and I think, with all 7 or so virtual machines on the one drive...I might be using perhaps 50% of my total available space? And I really need to do some spring cleaning on those drives...so, outside of perhaps one, read one, special project I might be doing this year that would require more space than I currently have available...yeah, I think I can wait.

Plus, the Seagate CEO's offhanded remarks about having the customers up against a wall (reading between the lines, of course)...are rather vexing.

Re:Quick summary (3, Insightful)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965401)

Plus, the Seagate CEO's offhanded remarks about having the customers up against a wall (reading between the lines, of course)...are rather vexing.

It's kind of tough for you. It takes a long time to build a hard drive factory (you're talking about a cycle of about a decade). It will take a long time for prices to drop back, and you're probably looking at a new level for exponential decay of price per gigabyte to decay from. But the worst part is that you have to realize that there's no reason there won't be another such catastrophe. OK, the details might be different (earthquake, volcano, war, etc.) but the effect on prices of some critical component could be just the same anyway. Any time there's a concentration of high-tech factories anywhere in the world, there's an increase in risk.

Re:Quick summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964795)

This probably should've been part of the article summary.

But that wsould be a reason not to plonk soulskill articles, not something you find very often.

Re:Looks like it's getting better... (5, Funny)

Antidamage (1506489) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964847)

It's about buying smart. Instead of buying recertified drives, go for drives that really like the water like Barracudas and Caviar.

Re:Looks like it's getting better... (3, Funny)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964911)

If I buy one of those two models my data will be eaten alive, and boy will I have egg on my face then.

Fear economics (5, Insightful)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964139)

That is what we are dealing with. From HDs to gas prices.

Re:Fear economics (5, Insightful)

boombaard (1001577) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965361)

I'm sorry, but this is imply bullshit. What we are dealing with is not "fear economics", but with the consequences of overemphasizing efficiency over resilience and/or robustness. And at the root of that is that that is what economic "thinking" teaches economic actors to do.

Re:Fear economics (1)

boombaard (1001577) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965391)

Meant to type: "I'm sorry, but this is simplistic nonsense (that gets you +4/5 insightful...). What we are dealing with is not "fear economics", but "bad economics". That is, what we are dealing with are the consequences of the fact that all the players are overemphasizing efficiency at the cost of resilience and/or robustness. And the reason they do that is because that is what economic "thinking" teaches everyone to do."

Re:Fear economics (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965421)

I'm sorry, but this is imply bullshit. What we are dealing with is not "fear economics", but with the consequences of overemphasizing efficiency over resilience and/or robustness. And at the root of that is that that is what economic "thinking" teaches economic actors to do.

Economics will merrily quantify the level of risk associated with a decision (possibly wrongly; this is an area of current research as it is becoming clear that the simple models previously used were thoroughly bogus) but it won't tell you what the decision should actually be. Nor will professional management practice. Alas, lots of people think that they do and that they have to optimize the system (or their part of it) under the assumption that everything is working perfectly. This is stupid, but all too common.

Secondhand market is still hit hard (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964141)

...large capacity drives are still at the same price as new ones the same size were in May last year... I'm not even going to look at prices for new drives at the moment.

Re:Secondhand market is still hit hard (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964453)

Pricewatch? The damage didn't seem too bad.

Re:Secondhand market is still hit hard (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965389)

OK, I was brave... my regular supplier has Barracuda 7200.12 SATA II 1TB in for £95 delivered. Not bad, considering what's happened and the fact that the last external drive I bought was £60 (2TB), middle of last year.

Re:Secondhand market is still hit hard (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965425)

I bought three 2TB drives about a week before the flood. They cost £49.15 + VAT. The same model today, from the same supplier, costs £81.20 + VAT. About a month after the flood, it cost about £130, so the prices are slowly returning to their pre-flood levels...

LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964165)

These people have no idea how to perform comparison of numbers. Incredible, written like a 10 year old.

Fuck the 800 lives (2, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964169)

I want to know how much its going to cost me to stash another TB worth of shit music, porn, and absolute garbage movies and tv shows god damnit!

Re:Fuck the 800 lives (4, Informative)

tysonedwards (969693) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964183)

Currently 10 cents per GB, on average, as opposed to this time 1 quarter ago when you were looking at 5 cents per GB.

Re:Fuck the 800 lives (5, Funny)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964211)

OMFG that means for the same price I will only be able to stash half the garbage I will never consume!!!!

Re:Fuck the 800 lives (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964637)

I hope you're not talking USD with your 10c/GB. Prices are around 7c/GB in New Zealand, which is about 5c USD.

Re:Fuck the 800 lives (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964323)

I'm surprised you have the time to worry about people posting about the prices of goods when tens of thousands of people die in car crashes every year. Maybe you should get to work on that, instead, huh?

Re:Fuck the 800 lives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964709)

Don't you mean shit porn and absolute garbage movies, music and tv shows?

And people actually do wonder.. (2, Insightful)

dragisha (788) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964221)

About sales going down, while prices are going up. In hundreds of $

Those pesky customers, always making problems in free market. Market would do infinitely better without them.

My granny taught me (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964241)

It is not wise to keep all your eggs in one basket. But it is probably too much to expect common sense from the hard drive industry.

Re:My granny taught me (3, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964299)

It is not wise to keep all your eggs in one basket. But it is probably too much to expect common sense from the hard drive industry.

25% isn't "all the eggs". Not even close.

Re:My granny taught me (4, Informative)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964355)

But 70% of the HDD motors coming from a single supplier comes real close

Western Digital and Toshiba had factories in the flood zones whereas Seagate was mainly affected by the resulting supply constraints from business partners who were forced to halt production of related components. Among those was Nidec, which produces ~70% of the world's hard drive spindle motors.

Re:My granny taught me (5, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964677)

Among those was Nidec, which produces ~70% of the world's hard drive spindle motors.

Single supplier, but not single site. Their web site [nidec.co.jp] says they have plants for spindle motors in Thailand, China, Indonesia, The Philippines and Vietnam. True, the 6 plants listed are all in Thailand but the implication that 70% of the drive motors are made in Thailand is false.

Re:My granny taught me (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965433)

Yes, but what would happen if Godzilla laid waste to all of south-east Asia? See? No foresight at all!

Tsunami (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964245)

The Boxing Day tsunami that killed more than a quarter of a million in southern Asia doesn't even rate in the top 20 according to the World Bank.
Maybe we should just store our data inside people, they're cheap apparently.

Re:Tsunami (1)

Sneeka2 (782894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964339)

Maybe we should just store our data inside people, they're cheap apparently.

"The data you requested is 101101001011010, no, wait, 10110100101101110, no, erm... wait, I got it, 1011010010110100112."

Just wait.... (4, Informative)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964249)

I see folks are expecting prices to get better, but just watch...

The initial price shock from speculation, panic-buying and hoarding may be coming down somewhat, but as the article alludes towards the end, the real impact might last throughout this year. There haven't been actual shortages on that many products so far, and when real shortages show up prices could stay high or go higher even with people cutting down as much as they can on drive purchases. (I know several popular and/or performance drives have sold out at PC makers, especially on their build-your-own websites, but most products never ran completely dry.)

Not to mention that while vendors have a lot of tactics for dealing with shortages, from back-stock to supply contract clauses entitling them to extra shipments of already manufactured inventory during crises, none of those tricks can't make new hard drives appear out of nowhere. The wiggle room such tactics enable will be drying up about now. Eventually even commodity drives could feel the squeeze as supplies on more and more drives threaten to run out entirely, despite the high prices. Because there's a lot of pent-up demand and it sounds like many of those plants still aren't nearing full capacity again.

Re:Just wait.... (2)

wisty (1335733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964347)

Well, look at the lead time on a hard drive factory. You can probably get one up and running in what, a year?

Hard drives are still cheap, in historical terms, and HDD is the limiting factor for many systems - nobody runs out of CPU, only servers and power users (programmers, video editors, numerical scientists) run out of RAM, and Intel graphics are now sufficient for some tasks (gasp).

People held off because they were higher than usual, but now that the price is going down (not up) demand will pick up again. People don't "maximize utility" (as economists say), they just respond to *relative* price changes.

Re:Just wait.... (5, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964585)

Lies. We can never have enough CPUs, as long as you are speaking about cores or sockets on a motherboard. We could have CPUs with 10,000 cores on them, taking 512-bit words, and it still wouldn't be enough.

And Intel graphics are never sufficient. I have yet to encounter anyone who has gone 6 months with an actual machine with an integrated Intel graphics chip-set, and not have them hunger for something better.
It's the same old sad story every time ->
"I just like to browse the internet and do email, I don't need anything fancy."
"Yes, you do."
"Well, the model I was looking at is $200 cheaper than the one you recommended."
"That's because I'm speccing in your need for decent video performance 3 months from now, when you discover gaming / Photoshop / Aero Glass / CAD / whatever."
"You know what? I'm going to get the cheaper one. I don't need the video performance."

3 months later:
"Dude, I was trying to play WoW on my computer, and it's really slow!"
"Do go on."
"Yeah man, they pushed out a new patch, and even with the details turned all the way down, the machine lags."
"Really. I wouldn't have imagined that."
"So, can you help me purchase a good video card?"
*facepalms*

Or alternatively:
"Yeah, I saw my friend with a Mac, and it does everything really well. I think I'll buy one, because, you know, everything just works."
"Only one of your applications actually runs on that operating system."
"Yeah, I think I'll manage. I want to get away from this Microsoft stuff."

3 days later:
"Could you install Office on my Mac for me?"
"No."
"Come on. Here's my discs and..."
"These discs are for a Windows computer."
"But the guy at the Apple store told me the Mac could run Windows..."
"Yes, if you use Boot Camp, and obtain a licensed copy of Windows, sure. Same as any other computer."
"So, I can't run Office on my Mac?"
"No, no. You can, you just need to shell out some more money for the Mac version. Good luck with that."
"Well, can you still install it for me? After I get the discs?"
"No. I do not do Macs. I do not own one, I do not want one, and I do not want to learn about Apple's products." - a slight lie, as the first machine I dicked around with was an Apple. Still, it is a loophole that allows the Windows / Linux techs to feign lack of knowledge, and allows us to (thank God) finally emerge from tech support hell for these kinds of people. Let the geniuses at the Apple store deal with them for a while, as we have for the past two decades...as we all know what it inevitably devolves into...midnight phone calls, requests to drive to far away places (using your own gas and time), and a fair amount of disrespect. I just need to put my fingers in my ears, and hum, for several more years, while they tell me that because their MacBook is having trouble renewing its DHCP address when it resumes from hibernation mode, it must be a problem with my network.

But back on topic. We can never have enough CPUs, never enough cores on those CPUs, never enough CPU sockets (even on consumer grade stuff), never enough RAM (I just want a motherboard with 16 RAM slots per CPU), and yes, we can never have enough hard disk space. Or x16 slots...if I can't fit a dozen two-slot video cards into a single motherboard, we haven't gone far enough. Or enough cache. And no, I don't care that cache performance theoretically deteriorates as the size increases. It's up there with being too healthy, or being too wealthy, or too alive, or too free.

Re:Just wait.... (2)

wisty (1335733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964715)

1) If you pay any reasonable price, more CPU and memory is generally wasted. My Macbook Air rarely fells slow, and it's running a crappy C2D. Any modern system (i5 and up) will be fine.

2) I think you are underestimating the current Intel GPUs. I'd still advise a basic dedicated GPU if you play any games at all, but Intel is finally making GPUs which are not complete crap. Intel on new chips is now comparable to low-end outdated dedicated GPUs.

The first generation Intel GPU was the GMA 900, in 2004, on P4 chipsets. The less said the better. Actually, it's big brother the 950 ran on Core2 mobiles - think early MacBooks. It was not good.

The next big redesign was the GMA X3000 in 2006, which also kind of sucked. It ran on the later Core 2s.

Finally, Intel put the GPU on the CPU, with Intel HD Graphics. The first lot (on Nehalm) was OK. The second lot (on Sandy Bridge) is actually good. The Atoms run some licensed 3rd party chipset, I think.

The problem now is, Intel's names are so confusing you don't know whether you've getting a good one or not.

Re:Just wait.... (3, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965003)

...as we all know what it inevitably devolves into...midnight phone calls, requests to drive to far away places (using your own gas and time), and a fair amount of disrespect.

You know what makes this easy? Tell them fixing computers is a side job of yours and you don't do it for free for anyone. They can pay your hourly rate (at a "discount") or barter something with you in exchange for your time. Otherwise, they can go elsewhere. After all, you wouldn't ask a plumber friend to fix your toilet for free, would you? (And if you did, you're an asshole in my book.)

Re:Just wait.... (1)

gmack (197796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965245)

Exactly, time is worth something. My policy is that for most people I fix computers for a living that means I want something in return even if it's just dinner. As a side note: my best barter ever was a guy who really messed up his computer several times and his wife was a professional massage therapist.

Re:Just wait.... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38965399)

Did you get a happy ending?

Re:Just wait.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38965169)

...
It's the same old sad story every time ->
"I just like to browse the internet and do email, I don't need anything fancy."
"Yes, you do."
"Well, the model I was looking at is $200 cheaper than the one you recommended."
"That's because I'm speccing in your need for decent video performance 3 months from now, when you discover gaming / Photoshop / Aero Glass / CAD / whatever."
"You know what? I'm going to get the cheaper one. I don't need the video performance."

3 months later:
"Dude, I was trying to play WoW on my computer, and it's really slow!"
"Do go on."
"Yeah man, they pushed out a new patch, and even with the details turned all the way down, the machine lags."
"Really. I wouldn't have imagined that."
"So, can you help me purchase a good video card?"
*facepalms*

The problem with your argument is that 3 months later, $200 may get you a whole new generation of video card, and they have been able to collect/save interest on that $200. Spending deferred is money saved.

Re:Just wait.... (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965179)

midnight phone calls, requests to drive to far away places (using your own gas and time), and a fair amount of disrespect

It seems that you are a good person, trying to help others. Unfortunately, it seems to be a very bad side in the nature of some people that this doesn't get you any respect, quite the opposite. Try this: Next time you meet one of these people, and people discuss what to do, you suggest going to some nice restaurant and you say loud enough that it can't be missed: "You pay". When they ask why, you say "well, I solved this problem for you for free, didn't I"?

So what happens? They might never ask for your help again. Good. They might ask for your help again, and you can now very easily refuse, in spite of your good nature. Good. Or you get a good meal, and you get respect. Good.

Re:Just wait.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38965227)

You know, those conversations could go very differently if you think about what you say instead of looking for opportunities to look down on people.

Like this:

"I just like to browse the internet and do email, I don't need anything fancy."
"OK. You can always buy a dedicated card later if you need more"

3 months later:
"Dude, I was trying to play WoW on my computer, and it's really slow!"
"Maybe it's time to get that new graphics card."
"That's what I'm thinking. Can you help me purchase a good one?"

Or this:
"Could you install Office on my Mac for me?"
"No."
"Come on. Here's my discs and..."
"These discs are for a Windows computer."
"But the guy at the Apple store told me the Mac could run Windows..."
"Only if you have Windows installed on your Mac. The simplest thing to do is buy a licensed copy of Windows and install it using Boot Camp, then your Windows programs can work. I don't do Macs though so I can't help you - just go to an Apple Store and ask someone there.

Re:Just wait.... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965301)

It's up there with being too healthy, or being too wealthy, or too alive, or too free.

More like there's far more water in the tap or far more electricity in the wires than I'm going to use. Going from 4 to 16 MB and 4 to 16 GB is the same mathematically, but the former was a huge upgrade and the latter a luxury. Before, how many applications/windows/tabs I'd have open was limited by the computer, too many and it'd slow down. Today it's practically only limited by how many I think is manageable to work with, today I could within "prosumer" prices get 8x8GB on a LGA2011 board and it's not that I couldn't afford it, it's that I haven't nearly tapped out the 16GB I have.

Same with CPU, 99.9% of the time the computer is waiting for me not the other way around, along with a SSD pretty much all response lag is gone. When there's a job that takes a few minutes, I'll go check the headlines or grab a refill or a snack or visit the facilities, in all honestly even with an infinitely fast computer I couldn't be that much more productive. Sure, there's always things that could use infinite power but not what most people do most of the time.

And while I like good graphics over poor, it's a diminishing return. It's not enough to simply make the textures, effects, shadows and reflections more detailed, you also have to get all the animations and physics right. Most realism fail in today's games have nothing to do with the graphics card, it's that you'd need an army of programmers to get all the details right. The hardware has outpaced even the hundred million dollar titles. And it's not just because of consoles, people won't pay 10x as much to get all the details right. The hardware can do it but the cost/benefit isn't there.

In short, if I had to justify my PC purchases I'm pretty much down to "because I can at a reasonable cost and because I spend so much time in front of it". Like if I spent a lot of time driving I wouldn't get just a usable car, like functional in the requirement to get me from A to B. I'd get a comfortable and enjoyable car, that I like to be in and to drive with maybe things of pure entertainment value like a good sound system.

P.S. Unless you're talking about a laptop, upgrading to a discrete GPU after three months isn't much of a WTF, I've found that buying things ahead of demand is usually just a giant waste of money. In three months time, the prices could have been slashed pretty good, a new generation of hardware could have arrived. Particularly now that it comes for "free" with every Intel processor anyway.

Re:Just wait.... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964759)

I'd agree with you on everything but the Intel graphics part. Sure they are okay if you are only doing spreadsheets and the like but it don't take too many flash videos in websites to drag those suckers down, all except the top o' the line chips of course. and I don't know what GPU they are putting in those Atom netbooks but frankly they should be ashamed, even the newest one i recently tried and it royally sucked for anything other than webvideo. Compare this to the C60 I found a customer for $300 over the holiday, that is pretty much the lowest chip AMD makes right now and that still played 720p perfectly and would have probably ran 1080p if her TV would have had an open HDMI port for me to try it out. Frankly I don't know why intel just doesn't try to buy Nvidia already or at least partner up instead of shooting themselves in the face by killing the Nvidia chipset biz, because the only thing that made atom usable was ION and now that's dead.

as for TFA this is why my customers are rediscovering the wonderful world of DVD backups! hell of a lot cheaper to buy 400gb worth of DVDs off of Amazon for $25 than it is to get a new 400gb HDD and if you keep them in a cool dry place frankly they'll last for years and years. In fact i still have some 4x DVDs I burnt with one of the first consumer DVD burners ever released and they read perfectly even after...how long has it been now, something like 9 years? Like I've been telling them discs are cheap enough make two copies and put one offsite for things they care about like pics and then wait for the price to drop. of course those are just the ones that didn't listen to me when i told them to buy 1Tb externals when they were less than $60 most were smart enough to buy when i told them too. I'd tell them to just get some flash sticks for small backups but after having a couple of brand new 16Gb sticks just die without warning i don't think I really trust those things for any files I care about. one thing about the spinning rust is if its gonna fail you usually get some heads up.

Re:Just wait.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38965213)

none of those tricks can't make new hard drives appear out of nowhere.

I don't disagree without you.

One more example of why not to have 3rd World mfg (0, Flamebait)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964253)

Not only does it not represent savings, it screws everyone around the world.

Costs in well-protected nations such as the US and regions such as the EU wouldn't be stratospherically high. But don't let facts get in the way if you're going to defend the hellholes of the Third World.

Re:One more example of why not to have 3rd World m (2, Insightful)

Sneeka2 (782894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964361)

You'd get the same thing in "first world hellholes", only that the reason for production going down would be due to strikes and general laziness rather than natural catastrophes. Which, in addition, happen in first world countries as well occasionally.

Re:One more example of why not to have 3rd World m (0)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964383)

Except for the fact that they aren't. You just want a pliant workforce that's not much more than slaves or sharecroppers. Have the US/EU market served by its own people, have the Third World served by its own people, and things like this don't happen.

Also, First World countries like the US respond faster and clean things up in a better manner. Never mind that such factories would be well-protected from such disasters before they happen.

Re:One more example of why not to have 3rd World m (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964407)

Never mind that such factories would be well-protected from such disasters before they happen.

Does the name Fukushima ring a bell ?

Re:One more example of why not to have 3rd World m (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964431)

There are other countries in the world other than Japan.

To avoid hurricane and tornado disasters in the US, one could manufacture in states like Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, or Pennsylvania if not for business hostility to worker respect.

In the UK, that can be done in flood-resistant parts of that country.

Re:One more example of why not to have 3rd World m (1)

Sneeka2 (782894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964551)

Why aren't more factories in Colorado and Michigan then? Oh, because the workers there want to be paid an order of magnitude better than their "hellhole" counterparts, which... wait for it... would jack up the end price for the product. There's a reason these things are being manufactured there in the first place.

Re:One more example of why not to have 3rd World m (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964735)

Freedom for thee, but not for me?

It wouldn't jack up the prices much more than 30% at most.

Re:One more example of why not to have 3rd World m (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965043)

Given how little actual human labor goes is required for a lot of these products, and you get to save shipping around the world, the costs don't go up as much as you might think.>/p>

Plus, with more people in your market area working, you sell more product.

It's not done due to executive psycopathy and because the ROI takes more than 3 months to show up.

Re:One more example of why not to have 3rd World m (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965247)

Given how little actual human labor goes is required for a lot of these products, and you get to save shipping around the world, the costs don't go up as much as you might think

So why did you (or your predecessor) choose to locate the factories there?

You are CFO of an electronics company, right?

Re:One more example of why not to have 3rd World m (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964869)

Slavery advocate marked Insightful - Slashdot at its best.

Re:One more example of why not to have 3rd World m (1)

cas2000 (148703) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964621)

yeah, they should have built their factories in Queensland or New South Wales. or the UK...it's been at least a few years since they had a major flood.

after all, everyone knows that floods in predominantly white countries don't destroy factories due to the superior racial characteristics of the geography. and in QLD or NSW a bushfire is sure to come along soon and dry everything out.

Infrastructure & regulation, not race. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964785)

Economics and government coordination to disaster, not race are what make countries like Australia and the US, along with regions like the UK better at disaster response. That, and it helps to have some actual regulations to mitigate damage from said disasters, something unheard of in places like Thailand.

What I am suggesting is that dictatorial regimes such as Thailand, China, and Vietnam, as well as corrupted regimes such as India, Russia, Brazil, and Mexico would rather cut corners and freedoms so that they do not offend business.

Besides, arent hard disk prices saner in Australia?

Re:Infrastructure & regulation, not race. (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965123)

"Besides, arent hard disk prices saner in Australia?"

Yes but their drives wont work here. the platters spin the other direction.

Re:One more example of why not to have 3rd World m (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965107)

Or you know, something smart that has been taught for centuries...

Build on the high ground.

Re:One more example of why not to have 3rd World m (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965257)

One slight flaw: it's already been built on.

And I live in in Holland, you insensitive clod!!!!!

Digital Cameras? (5, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964259)

The Thai floods also disrupted the supply chain for digital cameras. It would be interesting to know how things are doing on that front.

Re:Digital Cameras? (3, Informative)

CadentOrange (2429626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964581)

There is a graph on this page http://camerapricebuster.co.uk/prod1632.html [camerapricebuster.co.uk] which is for the Nikon D7000 which is manufactured in Thailand. It looks like the price jumped rather significantly.

Re:Digital Cameras? (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965509)

We were looking at the D7000 last October, originally planning to buy one in early January. We went into the camera store, and they told us they were out of stock due to the flooding (but, a few weeks after Christmas, they filed bankruptcy, so I suspect there was more to the story than flooding). Fearing there would be a shortage and we wouldn't be able to get one when we were planning, we went online and bought the camera immediately.

Looks like it's a good thing we bought when we did. Of course that probably means we contributed to the price jump...

spot market effect (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964311)

I think lots of people don't understand what happened with Newegg and other retailers. As someone explained it to me, a drive maker like WD has two kinds of customers:

1) big systems integrators like Lenovo, Dell, HP, etc., who order 100K drives at a time or more
2) Smaller customers (e.g. resellers) like Newegg, who order maybe 1k drives at a time. If someone wants just 5 drives they have to buy from a distributor or retailer like Newegg.

The very big customers will order their 100k drives at some preagreed price, delivered over (say) a 3-6 month interval per their production schedules. WD also plans its own production around such large orders. If they get (say) 1 million drives worth of such orders for 1Q2012, they'll (normally) set up their production to make (say) 1.3 million drives, deliver 1 million of them per the pre-agreed contracts, and put 0.3 million on the shelf for to fulfill "spot market" orders from places like Newegg. Depending on market conditions and what the competition is doing, the spot price will fluctuate above or sometimes below what the big OEM's pay.

When the Thai floods hit, production was cut from (say) 1.3 million to 0.9 million. There was no way to fulfill the agreed contracts, understandable due to the disaster, but they had to make the best effort they could, which meant hand ALL their drives over to OEM's while the likes of Newegg got nothing. So the prices of integrated systems actually didn't jump that much, but spot prices skyrocketed.

Now that we're a few months into the drama, the OEM's are in a new ordering cycle, they get to pay higher prices too, but WD gets to again allocate some drives to spot inventory. So we'll be seeing higher prices from Dell over the coming months, but some relief on the Newegg side (though the prices will still be higher than before, until around 3Q or 4Q from what I keep hearing).

Cut out the middleman then. (0)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964405)

1) big systems integrators like Lenovo, Dell, HP, etc., who order 100K drives at a time or more
2) Smaller customers (e.g. resellers) like Newegg, who order maybe 1k drives at a time. If someone wants just 5 drives they have to buy from a distributor or retailer like Newegg.

The more reason to legislatively block such a restriction, and allow direct sales to cut the middleman/resellers out.

Re:Cut out the middleman then. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964443)

Huh? The manufacturers aren't legally forbidden from selling you 3 drives if that's what they want to do. They just don't want to deal with running a retail operation. It's just like if you call a shoe manufacturer like Nike and say you want to buy a pair of running shoes. They will refer you to a shoe store, since they don't want to deal with smaller quantities.

Also remember that the OEM contracts were significant in the above picture because they were agreed BEFORE the floods, and locked in pre-flood prices that stayed in force for months after the flood. So even if WD were willing to sell you 1-2 drives directly, you would have had to order before the flood to get the low price. After the flood, if they had inventory to sell you that hadn't already been committed to other customers, they would have charged market prices the same as Newegg did.

Re:Cut out the middleman then. (0)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964475)

Still not a good enough argument to not require a reasonable and non-discriminatory (as determined by the end user) way to buy directly.

It provides an option to get around jackass resellers and wholesalers.

Re:Cut out the middleman then. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964533)

idiot liberal thinking.

Re:Cut out the middleman then. (2)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964541)

This is a case of the middleman not being at fault. The OEM's buy in bulk, the manufacturers encourage that with discounts. That seems entirely reasonable. Sometimes "not going the way you like it" does NOT in fact directly translate to "evil is afoot". In this case, a natural disaster impacted supply in a way that changed prices. Now prices are edging back to the norm. Some middlemen might have raised prices (and evidence of fixing in relation to this disaster, if found, should absolutely be used to prosecute to the fullest). But in the absence of such evidence, there doesn't seem to be a clear bad guy (aside perhaps from not being properly prepared for a natural disaster).

Re:Cut out the middleman then. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964547)

how is this for a reason:
  drive manufactures DO NOT WANT TO SELL TO YOU because your 2-5 hard drive order is insignificant for them
  they do want to sell to newegg and anybody else willing to purchase few thousands drives so you and few thousands more people could gather up and make one big order and split drives among yourself (it would actually end up more expensive that way than buying from neweg, but nobody is stopping you from doing that)

Re:Cut out the middleman then. (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965505)

They do already. But if you're buying 3 drives then you're going to - proportionally - pay a lot more in handling charges. In terms of manpower, it costs about the same (actually, a bit less) to put a load of drives on a pallet and load them into a van as it does to get three drives off the production line and ship them to a single address. If you turn up at the factory, a lot of these places will happily sell you drives quite cheaply, but if you want them to ship them to you then you have to cover their costs. This cost is a lot easier to absorb when it's split over 1,000 drives than when it's split over 3.

Re:Cut out the middleman then. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38965057)

No one is preventing you from buying direct, they just have minimum order quantities. Are you suggesting that it would be a good idea to make minimum order quantities illegal? If you legally required them to single hard drives in single units they would just set the price absurdly high anyway, and give big discounts in quantities over 1000. Would you then suggest that the government legislate sales prices to manufacturers? In an industry that is constantly innovating and lowering prices and generally works very well? Why?

Re:Cut out the middleman then. (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965209)

The more reason to legislatively block such a restriction, and allow direct sales to cut the middleman/resellers out.

Its allowed. There is no restriction.

The fact that they dont want to do business with people keen on forcing them into the retail business does not amount to a market failure. It amounts to a liberal, with a raging hard-on for the theory that business is evil, being given a subject to talk about that inevitably proves exactly how ignorant he is.

Re:Cut out the middleman then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38965471)

The more reason to legislatively block such a restriction

You are a fucking moron. The factory, like all mass-production factories, are not interested in selling single units. There is no restriction, there is no conspiracy, there is only your dumb stupid knee-jerk conclusion. You fucking moron.

Re:spot market effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964589)

I actually hadn't realised that this was the case, thanks for the info sir.

I have been checking out HDD prices and by and large I thought that prices were meant to remain higher than pre-flood levels until at least Q4 2012.

First world problem (-1, Troll)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964419)

sure, hard drives, its tech news, and its the only thing we seem to worry about. let me contrast the headline with this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Indian_Ocean_earthquake_and_tsunami [wikipedia.org]

shashdot never reported this; the death toll was hundreds of times larger. slashdot didnt give a shit because it wasnt tech news; i sadly respect that. the next time we decide to herald an article about a recent natural disaster that affects our ability to store pirated music and porn, lets omit the illusion that we pretend to give a shit about human life.

might i suggest instead that we crawl out of our basements, go to the park, read a book, take a bike ride, or go for a walk to calm our nerves over the recent lack of practically free hard disks for sale at the expense of human rights and fair wages and in the support of despotic regimes the likes of which we never learn of in the west. That is, until an 'insert-region-here' spring helps to reinforce capitalist/democratic norms.

Re:First world problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964459)

I wonder how many American or Worldwide corporations sat at there tables saying --well the clean up is not are problem, lets worry about saving ourselves till they figure it out-- instead of saying ---lets see what resources and money we can afford to give out to help not just the mining but to help that entire area and its people--.

I am glad someone wrote something besides the prices of hard drives, or digital cameras, or any other hardware..

Re:First world problem (4, Informative)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964511)

This is a technical site for geeks and nerds, we simply don't need to cover that side of the story, it's been done elsewhere. The reality is, as nerds this is the important part to us. You can say we're emotionless or cruel or some other such word but those are the facts, it's a technical site, with technical news. If you want coverage of the other impact you need to look elsewhere.

Re:First world problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964981)

, it's a technical site, with technical news.

So innocent.

This is a site that's about pageviews. Anything they can force, through any form of convoluted wordplay, into "geek" news that will generate the pageviews will be put out.

Every business is in the business of making money. What they *do* to make the money is always secondary.

Re:First world problem (5, Insightful)

Engeekneer (1564917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964563)

I think that's needlessly critical. Of course there are great human disasters which don't fall under the umbrella of /. Just because this happened to be one which also has a major affect on the tech industry, doesn't mean the humane part of this is any less tragic. Still, people come to /. for tech news, and this is an interesting analysis on how the price of the drives have been affected, and that is what /. should report.

Lumping everybody together as basement-dwelling cold-hearted bastards who only care about cheap hardware is just as narrow-minded as you claim people reporting/reading this are. In fact, from my experience it seems that people reading /. are often more aware of international social issues than average.

Re:First world problem (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964659)

So what was the technical aspect of this story? Nothing? Right. It was already covered elsewhere, whether it be political, non-political, or every news-site under the sun, and every other technical site under the sun. Take your sanctimonious ass elsewhere if that's so much of a problem.

But if you want to argue 'human rights' and 'fair wages' might I remind you that back in 'early days' of North America, Europe shipped all of their industry here. Including all of their child based mills, and basically slavery to do their dirty work. I'm sure you know what happened already, well maybe you don't. Industry exploded and there hasn't been a time of industrial, personal, or monetary growth seen since.

Along with it there was no shortage of horror stories, like little timmy's and janes getting sliced in half, or the brutal 20 hour days in the foundries for children. Or well regular workers either. But hey, look at where we are now.

Re:First world problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964733)

stupid PC wank

Re:First world problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964857)

Insightful? what a joke. We read slashdot for tech news, if i want to read about how X people died or X people got raped or other miserable crap id read the bbc or whatever.

Re:First world problem (4, Informative)

Njovich (553857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964897)

What? I agree that Slashdot sometimes ignores stuff that matters a lot, but this was covered [slashdot.org], and there were a bunch of followup posts on Slashdot too.

If you are suggesting that people on Slashdot don't know about this event, you are delusional.

Also, I'm not going to take a bike ride in -26C, but if you want to take one in your cozy first world climate, be my guest.

Re:First world problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38965031)

While you have a point about getting a life, this is a (sometimes arguably) tech website/forum. So on here expect to find people whining about tech stuff.

It shouldn't be expensive anymore anyway. (5, Informative)

jampola (1994582) | more than 2 years ago | (#38964487)

I live in Thailand and ever since the floods, it has been used as an excuse to keep prices up. Examples of this would be beer, eggs, maama (think instant noodles) and also Hard Drives!

If you've ever lived here, you know people try to outsmart everyone and an example of this would be claiming shortages of hard drives is keep prices high even known their supply chain in Ayuthaya (where most of this shit comes from) has been bone dry and their factories operating at capacity for at least 6 - 8 weeks.

Mind you, when I go to my IT Square near where I live, only a few days ago Hard Drive prices are relatively back to normal, yet overseas, are still super expensive compared to normal. Also Nikon cameras and glass are normal prices here (most DX DSLR's and glass are made in Ayuthaya) and again OS it's still more expensive than normal.

Re:It shouldn't be expensive anymore anyway. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964781)

Why not import a !#@$ of maama and make a killing?

Re:It shouldn't be expensive anymore anyway. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964843)

This won't do Thailand any favors though. If companies in Thailand report artificial shortages of product in order to keep prices high, that only creates incentives for companies to start up around the world to compete in the hard drive space.

Re:It shouldn't be expensive anymore anyway. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38965335)

This won't do Thailand any favors though. If companies in Thailand report artificial shortages of product in order to keep prices high, that only creates incentives for companies to start up around the world to compete in the hard drive space.

Who do you think is going to put up these factories? The same guys who own the factories in Thailand, who are profiting by perpetrating this crime? It's almost like you were anonymous and cowardly because you knew what you were saying was complete bullshit.

Re:It shouldn't be expensive anymore anyway. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38964903)

If you've ever lived here, you know people try to outsmart everyone

If by "here" you mean "on Earth" then yes, that is true. Business people all over the world try to cheat and lie as much as they can to make as much money as they can.

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