Shipments of solid-state drives (SSDs) shot up 82 percent last year, reflecting an increase in demand for the speedy storage technology from businesses and consumers alike, according to market research firm IHS. Figures do not include storage devices used for automotive, set-top and other non-IT scenarios.

In its findings, the company noted that “SSD industry is in aggressive expansion mode, with favorable drivers for both the short and long term.” In total, vendors shipped 57 million SSDs last year.

Flash has made a particularly big impact on the enterprise storage market, despite some recent turmoil affecting EMC and storage startups like Violin Memory. Performance-boosting, energy efficient SSDs have made their way into more storage infrastructures. IHS said “new enterprise products, ranging from drives to caches to arrays, have given many IT departments greater flexibility to integrate SSDs into corporate storage systems.”

In terms of growth, SSDs are outpacing traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) and optical disk drives (ODDs), the latter of which are flirting with extinction. “The SSD sector is easily the most promising, compared to a struggling HDD segment that remains huge but is still trying to find its footing in a shifting environment, or to the more beleaguered ODD space that now has become irrelevant,” said Fang Zhang, IHS storage systems analyst, in a statement.

IHS forecasts that SSD shipments will rise another 50 percent this year. By 2017, shipments are expected to total 189.6 million units, or “close to half the size of the HDD market of 397.0 million.”

Hard drive makers are feeling the sting of eroding demand. The segment, described as “down but not out” by IHS, dropped 7 percent in 2013 to 444.4 million HDDs. “In the HDD segment, the rise of smartphones and tablets has dented the once-powerful appeal of computers, impacting HDD volume. The losses are especially apparent in the so-called client PC market—the consumer side of the PC business,” said IHS.

Optical drive providers fared worse, experiencing a 12 percent fall with 253.5 million units shipped during the year. The growing popularity of online streaming is biting into CD, DVD and Blu-ray player sales. IHS expects ODD shipment to fall 40 percent further from their 2012 levels.

All told, the computer storage industry saw shipments slip to 755.0 million units, a five percent decrease from 794.0 million units in 2012, which IHS attributed to “continuing contractions in the hard-disk drive and optical disk drive segments.”

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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