WDC SSD And HDD Announcements For Data Center, Client, Media & Entertainment And Game Applications

I had an opportunity to visit Western Digital at the 2022 NAB show as well as attend their analyst event on May 9 (What’s Next Western Digital). Here are some announcements and insights from those briefings.

At the NAB show WDC was showing their SanDisk Professional branded products including the company’s new PRO-DOCK 4 media reader docking station, shown below. This is a four-bay docking station that works with PRO-READER devices that allow offloading popular camera memory cards as well as connecting displays, drives and A/V devices. Note that the PRO-READERS allow reading the memory cards to a computer, independent of the dock.

The dock includes thunderbolt 3 connectivity and can charge devices and accessories with 87W power. Bolts on the side allow attaching the device to a DIT card or other gear for video production. The dock works with macOS 10.9+ or Windows 10+. An image of one of the PRO Readers is shown below.

The company also introduced its PRO-BLADE modular SSD ecosystem, see below. This consists of a PRO_BLADE SSD mag, a modular NVME SSD, a PRO-BLADE TRANSPORT portable enclosure that the PRO-BLADE slips into for data access and a PRO-BLADE STATION. The PRO-BLADE STATION is a modular desktop NVMe SSD enclosure that four PRO-BLADEs slip into. An empty PRO-BLADE TRANSPORT is $69.99 MRSP and PRO-BLADE mags are available from 1 to 4TB and a price ranging from $179.99 to $599.99.

The PRO-BLADE TRANSPORT is a portable USB-C (20Gbps) device providing up to 2 GB/s read and write speeds. The PRO-BLADE can be attached to a USB-C compatible camera rig for high-resolution recording directly onto a loaded PRO-BLADE SSD mag.

The PRO-BLADE mags and PRO-BLADE TRANSPORTs will ship in June 2022, while the STATION is expected to ship in late 2022.

At the NAB show WDC also was showing a 7.68TB G-DRIVE PRO STUDIO desktop SSD as well as SSD and HDD G-DRIVE products including a 4TB Portable SSD and a G-RAID SHUTTLE 8 that holds up to 160TB using 20TB Ultrastar HDDs.

At the May 9 Analyst event WDC spoke about other new SSD products. These included SSDs for compute, storage and boot/journaling SSDs. They also referred to the recent announcement with Samsung about market standards for Zone Storage SSDs. WDC said it is in high volume on BICS 4 NAND-based SSDs (96 layers) and announced BICS 5 NAND-based SSDs (112 layers).

The company said that next year they will ship BICS 6 SSDS (162 layers). The company introduced its Ultrastar DC SN650 NVMe SSD (based on PCIe 4.0) with up to 15+TB capacities (TLC NAND) in a 2.5-inch form-factor as well as E1.L form factor for higher density rack storage.

WDC also announced its SN740 PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD for client computer applications with sequential read speeds up to 5,15MB/s in aa thin, low power design. WDC was also showing consumer products and announced new additions to its WD_BLACK gaming SSDs with its BLACK SN850X NVMe SSD and WD_BLACK P40 Game Drive SSD. The images below shows the WD-Black SN770b NVMe SSD as well as the P40 Game Drive and the SN850X SSD. These products are targeted to the game market. The P40 Game SSD starts at $119.99 for 500GB.

Also, during the May 9 Analyst event WDC talked about the future of HDDs as well as SSDs. The company said that it is announcing 22TB CMR and 26TB UltraSMR HDDs for hyperscale data center applications. The drives move from 9 disks in the prior generation 20TB product to 10 disks with a storage capacity of 2.2TB per disk and areal density of about 1.1 Tbpsi for the CMR product. Dropbox talked about how they were using WDC SMR drives in their private cloud environment.

Western Digital’s new UltraSMR technology introduces large block encoding along with an advanced error correction algorithm that increases tracks-per-inch (TPI) to enable higher capacity. The result is Western Digital’s new 26TB Ultrastar┬« DC HC670 UltraSMR HDD that delivers 2.6TB per platter (1.3Tbpsi areal density), offering 18% more capacity for cloud customers optimizing their stacks to take advantage of the benefits of SMR. The image below shows WDCs full line of CMR and SMR HDDs with 26 and 22TB.

WDC’s current products use OptiNAND and ePMR. The 64GB of NAND in OptiNAND host metadata, provides a non-volatile cache (Armor-cache), enables high resolution track interface management and enables enhanced servo capabilities. The current generation of ePMR involves a bias applied to the write head to reduce jitter and allowing some linear gains density. The company indicated that it would soon announce a 2nd generation of ePMR that includes a Spin Torque Oscillator (STO) to implement a form of microwave assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) to enable higher linear recording density and enabling higher capacity CMR and SMR HDDs as shown in the chart below.

Western Digital revealed information on new HDD and SSD offerings at the 2022 NAB show and its May 9, 2022 analyst event. These included products targeted at the data center, client, media and entertainment, consumer and gaming markets. WDC announced the highest capacity HDD to date, an SMR drive with 26TB and a path to higher capacities with energy assisted recording.

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