World News: Automotive HDD shipments to hit 16.6m units by 2013

World News:  Automotive HDD shipments to hit 16.6m units by 2013

The explosion of digital multimedia infotainment systems in cars is prompting OEMs to adopt Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) for storage and playback of music, video and other digital content.

According to iSuppli, shipments of HDDs for automotive infotainment systems are expected to reach 16.6 million units by 2013, nearly five times the 3.5 million in 2006. With a projected CAGR of more than 25%, automotive hard drives will be the fastest-growing storage solutions for cars in the next five years.

“The expansion of infotainment in vehicles is providing users with a multimedia environment that has the capability to exceed the entertainment systems found in their home,” said Richard Robinson, principal analyst, automotive electronics for iSuppli.

“In the very near future, vehicles will be required to receive and store broadcast digital content, from radio, television and other data-delivery systems such as WiMAX. This requirement is shaping the strategies that are being developed by vehicle manufacturers as they look for suitable replacements for current read-only optical technologies, including HDDs.”

Embedded navigation systems typically use one of three storage formats: CD, DVD and HDDs. CDs are falling out of favour as the primary map storage format for navigation systems, and dual-layer DVDs are dominating the market.

However, neither the CD nor DVD optical technologies can compete with the system performance and storage capabilities of HDD-based systems.

But when it comes to pure audio, iSuppli says the optical-based single-CD systems will remain the default technology in cars through 2013, despite consumer preferences shifting from read-only optical technologies to flash memory- and HDD-based media.

While the purists will argue that converting music to MP3 files compromises audio quality, it’s unlikely that Mr Average Consumer with a reasonably good sound system in his car would be able to tell the difference.

In which case, the promised arrival of a 32GB USB memory stick, portable and big enough to store digital maps for the entire US as well as around three thousand MP3 files, might well shunt the automotive HDD into retirement.

However, if the introduction of bigger, better, more detailed digital maps inspires HDD manufacturers to come up with something bigger than the current 40GB, the memory stick developers could find themselves back at the drawing board.

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