At Mobile World Conference 2017, Western Digital Corp. (WDC) announced a handful of new mobile products. These products come under both the SanDisk product lines. These products include a new microSD card ideal for 4K and full HD video. WD announced a few new flash/USB drives. And the company announced a new iNAND for embedded flash storage, the 7350.
As mobile technology continues to advance, the devices themselves can’t always keep up or it becomes cost prohibitive to buy the higher end/higher capacity models. There are always the options of offloading content onto computers, NAS devices, or clouds but most users like to have all of their information at their fingertips. WD’s new products can help customers realize this end.
For users that want to take full advantage of the new A1 Standard, SanDisk has launched the new 256GB SanDisk Extreme microSD card with A1. For Android based smart phones (specifically the ones using Android Marshmallow 6 and Nougat 7), users can see a big performance bump when loading and launching apps from the microSD card. SanDisk quotes speeds of 100MB/s and a capacity of 256GB, making the card ideal for 4K UHD and Full HD video.
Also for Android, is the SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Drive 3.0. This drive is designed for users with OTG enabled Android devices, carries up to 256GB of capacity, and has quoted read speeds of 150MB/s. The dual connectivity allows for easy sharing and offloading of content. The Ultra Dual is automatically detected when plugged into the device.
WD isn’t stopping with Android devices. For iPhone and iPad users WD has launched two new USB devices, the 256GB SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive and 256GB SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick. Both of the drives provide 256GB of extra space for iPhones and iPads. The iXpand has a lighting connector on one side and a USB 3.0 connection on the other. The iXpand works with most cases and allows users to easily offload content on their device to their PC or Mac. The iXpand comes with he iXpand Drive app that lets users automatically backup their camera roll, content from social networking sites including tagged photos from Facebook and Instagram, and watch popular video formats straight from the drive via the iXpand Drive app. Along with encryption software, the iXpand also allows users to cast content to their TVs via Chromecast and Amazon Fire devices.
The 256GB SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick also gives users additional capacity this time wirelessly. Users need to load media onto the device and then through the SanDisk Connect app they can stream the contents up to three devices at a time. The Connect Stick can stream music, videos, and HD videos and can stream media via Apple AirPlay.
Aside from all of the add-ons that WD introduced, they are improving their embedded flash drive (EFD) technology as well with the new iNAND 7350. The new iNAND 7350 goes up to 256GB in capacity and leverages WD’s 3D NAND (the first embedded storage to do so). The iNAND 7350 is designed to support the emerging needs of mobile devices such as 4K video and augmented reality. From a performance stand point, WD states that the iNAND 7350 can hit sequential write speed of 2Gb/s and random read performance of 22K IOPS.
- The 256GB SanDisk Extreme microSD card with A1 is expected to be available by the end of March 2017 and to have a MSRP of $199.99
- The 256GB SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Drive 3.0 is expected to be available March 6, 2017 and is available for preorder now.
- The 256GB SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive and SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick are available now.
- iNAND 7350 is currently sampling with select OEMs with a GA expected in the second quarter of 2017.
Today Western Digital Corporation (WDC) introduced a new My Passport, though this time its storage will be an SSD, a first for WD portable drive. Expanding WD’s portfolio of My Passport devices, the new My Passport SSD will have much better performance that it typically seen when going from disk to flash. The new My Passport SSD is aimed at content creators and tech enthusiasts that need high performance in their portable media.
The new portable drive is stated to have speeds as high as 515MB/s, making it the faster My Passport drive to date. The drive uses a USB Type-C port and is USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gb/s) ready. It comes with both a USB Type-C to Type-C cable and a USB Type-C to Type-A for those that don’t yet have a USB-C port. The drive is compatible for both Mac and PC. Portability always comes with the risk of something physically happening to the drive. To assuage concerns, the My Passport SSD can withstand a 6.5-foot drop and up to 1500G of force. For protecting data on the inside of the drive, it comes with 256-bit AES hardware encryption and password protection.
Availability and Pricing
The WD My Passport SSD is available now at Bestbuy.com and is expected to be available at other select retailers this quarter. The drive comes in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB capacity and is priced $99.99, $199.99, and $399.99, respectively.
Western Digital recently announced that it had sold 15 million helium-filled hard drives, indicating that sales of such HDDs are accelerating. Since the launch of the HGST HelioSeal platform about 3.5 years ago, it has enabled HGST to make a number of technological improvements to its hard drives in terms of their capacities. It is noteworthy that while Western Digital is expanding usage of helium, it has not announced plans to expand usage of shingled-magnetic recording (SMR).
HGST, a subsidiary of Western Digital, started volume shipments of its first-generation helium-filled Ultrastar He-series hard drives in November 2013. HGST sold about a million HelioSeal HDDs in the first 1.5 years on the market, but once numerous operators of large cloud datacenters qualified such drives, their sales started to accelerate. For example, HGST supplied 1.1 million of helium-filled HDDs in Q3 2015 — more than in their first six quarters on the market. Meanwhile back in October of last year, Western Digital said it had sold 10 million HelioSeal hard drives. As it appears from the recent comments made by the company, in just a couple of quarters it has managed to sell another five million helium HDDs with cumulative shipments of such drives topping 15 million units since late 2013.
“I am pleased to note that we have now shipped approximately 15 million helium hard drives cumulatively since the platform’s launch four years ago,” said Michael D. Cordano, president of Western Digital, during a conference call with investors and analysts.
There are multiple reasons why sales of HelioSeal-based HDDs are accelerating. First, the demand for datacenter hard drives is growing, and operators have finally qualified helium-filled HDDs for new deployments. Second, with the systematic increase of drive capacities (a new capacity point is launched every 12 – 18 months), Western Digital can gradually increase shipments of helium-filled drives to existing and new deployments. Third, Western Digital is expanding usage of helium beyond datacenter-class drives to NAS and even consumer HDDs.
From technology standpoint, HelioSeal has made quite a bit of progress in the recent 3.5 years. Initially, it enabled HGST to place seven platters into a single 3.5” HDD and offer a 6 TB drive, which in turn had lower power consumption and higher performance than various competitors. Installation of seven platters into one drive required HGST to redesign some of the internal HDD components, and this is always a challenge. Moreover, late last year HGST introduced an even denser hard drive, the Ultrastar He12 with eight platters, which again required the company to redevelop internal architecture of the HDD.
When it comes to practical progress, the helium-filled Ultrastar drives doubled their capacity from 6 TB in Q4 2013 to 12 TB in Q1 2017. By contrast, conventional air-filled PMR-based drives have not yet made it past 8 TB, increasing their capacity by 33% from 6 TB in Q1 2014. Meanwhile, if we take the SMR-based Ultrastar He12 with 14 TB capacity into account, then the progress will seem quite impressive as well (a 75% increase from 8 TB in August 2013 to 14 TB in 2H 2017).
Speaking of SMR, it does not look like Western Digital is eager to share its plans regarding usage of the technology.
“Shingle [magnetic recording] has been a little bit more limited in terms of the applications because of some of the performance implications of that and that sort of thing,” said Stephen Milligan, CEO of Western Digital. “We feel comfortable with where we are at in terms of SMR transition and the applicability and the drives that we are providing to our customers.”
Unlike drive-managed SMR HDDs from Seagate, SMR HDDs from Western Digital should be managed by hosts and are therefore used only for active archive/deep-archive applications that can support it. This reduces their addressable market, but the company still sells plenty of them: 20 – 35% of data stored today belongs to the two aforementioned categories. Meanwhile, Seagate offers drive-managed SMR-based HDDs for both consumers and datacenters, something that Western Digital does not. For the time being at least, it looks like the company is not planning on disclosing any kind of roadmap for drive-managed SMR devices.
Western Digital has announced its first external SSDs to be sold under the WD brand. The My Passport SSDs are shock resistant, support hardware-based AES-256 encryption, use USB 3.1 Type-C at 10 Gb/s and promise to offer up to 515 MB/s transfer rates.
Western Digital does not disclose too many details about its WD My Passport external SSDs, but only says that the family includes models with 256 GB, 512 GB and 1 TB capacities. From the rated performance point of view, the WD My Passport seems to be faster than many other external SSDs that typically come rated for ~450 MB/s read speed, but real-world performance will need to be tested.
|WD My Passport SSD Specifications|
|256 GB||512 GB||1 TB|
|Speed||Up to 550 MB/s|
|Interface||USB 3.1 Type-C (10 Gbps), USB-C => USB-A adapter included|
|Color||Grey and Black|
|Dimensions||Height: 10 mm (0.39 in)
Depth: 90 mm (3.5 in)
Width: 45 mm (1.8 in)
|Operating Temperature||5°C to 35°C|
|Non-Operating Temperature||-20°C to 65°C|
Typically manufacturers use their internal SSDs for their USB-powered drives, so, it is logical to expect Western Digital to use either its current or next generation of its mainstream SATA offerings, with appropriate firmware, for the My Passport products. Given the fact that we do not know which drives are inside the external SSDs, we cannot say whether the My Passport SSD devices use planar or 3D NAND flash, but keep in mind that so far Western Digital has not announced a single 3D NAND-powered consumer SSD. Some good news is that the actual drive inside the My Passport SSD supports hardware AES-256 encryption (which indicates a more or less sophisticated controller) to improve performance for those who care about the security of their external data storage devices.
Unlike the WD My Passport hard drives, the My Passport SSD does not resemble an actual passport, but comes in a rugged 90×45×10 mm enclosure made of a gray metal that is tested to survive a 1.98 meters (6.5 feet) drop.
The drive is formatted as a single exFAT partition and is compatible with all modern versions of Apple macOS (Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan, Sierra) and Microsoft Windows (7, 8, 10). WD’s Backup software only works with Windows, whereas Mac owners can use only WD Security as well as WD Drive Utilities. Unfortunately, the My Passport SSDs do not support Google Android (at least for now).
Western Digital is currently offering its My Passport SSDs exclusively in Best Buy stores in the US, with wider global availability expected later this quarter. Each drive comes with a USB Type-C cable rated for 10 Gbps as well as a USB-C to USB-A adapter. As for pricing, WD plans to charge $99.99, $199.99 and $399.99 for the 256 GB, 512 GB and 1 TB models respectively.
Western Digital has expanded its Purple lineup of hard drives, aimed at video surveillance applications, with a 10 TB helium-filled HDD. The drive is optimized for write-intensive workloads and supports various technologies that minimize the number of potential errors due to the high-number of incoming data streams. The new WD Purple is also the company’s first 10 TB HDD with a 5400 RPM spindle speed and a large cache.
The WD Purple 10 TB drive (WD100PURZ) is based on the HelioSeal platform featuring seven PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) platters with ~1.4 TB capacity apiece, which it inherited from last year’s top-of-the-range HDDs. The increased areal density of the platters allowed the hard drive to increase its sustained transfer speed from host to drive to 210 MB/s, or by ~18% compared to the previous-generation helium-sealed WD Purple 8 TB HDD (WD80PUZX, 178 MB/s). This is at the same 5400 RPM spindle speed and at a slightly lower power consumption (up to 6.2 W vs up to 6.4 W). Just like other hard drives with a 10 TB capacity, the new WD Purple is equipped with a 256 MB DRAM buffer, which may further increase the real-world performance of the HDD against its predecessors.
|Comparison of Western Digital’s WD Purple HDDs|
|Capacity||10 TB||8 TB||6 TB||5 TB|
|Interface||SATA 6 Gbps|
|DRAM Cache||256 MB||128 MB||64 MB|
|Data Transfer Rate (host to/from drive)||210 MB/s||178 MB/s||170 MB/s||150 MB/s|
|MTBF||unknown||1 million hours|
|Rated Workload (read and write)||180 TB/year|
|Acoustics (Seek)||29 dBA||26 dBA|
|Power Consumption||Sequential read/write||6.2 W||6.4 W||5.3 W|
|Idle||5 W||5.7 W||4.9 W|
|Sleep||0.5 W||0.7 W||0.4 W|
|Price (as of April 2017)||$399.99||$281.99||$214||$200|
|$0.04 per GB||$0.035 per GB||$0.035 per GB||$0.04 per GB|
|25 GB per $||28.39 GB per $||28.03 GB per $||25 GB per $|
Since the WD Purple hard drives are purpose-built for video surveillance applications, they support the ATA streaming extension of the SATA standard as well as a number of WD proprietary technologies, including AllFrame 4K cache policy management and firmware enhancements to optimize data flows during playback and writing. All WD Purple drives can work with up to 64 cameras and are rated for a 180 TB/year workload. In addition, high-capacity WD Purple HDDs are optimized for operation in NVRs and DVRs with more than eight drives and support time-limited error recovery technology (TLER), which prevents drive fallout caused by extended HDD error recovery processes.
Western Digital claims that the new WD Purple 10 TB is compatible with new and existing video surveillance systems (including chassis, chipsets, etc.) and thus can be used for new and current deployments (except those that require drives with 512B/512e sectors – the new WD Purple only support 4Kn sectors). The manufacturer has already started to ship the new hard drives to its partners and they will be available shortly for $399.99.
While the addition of a 10 TB HDD into the WD Purple series is a significant event, the fact that Western Digital began to roll out 10 TB helium-filled hard drives with a 5400 RPM spindle speed is even more important (until recently, WD used to offer only 8 TB helium-filled 5K HDDs). With the introduction of a 10 TB product with a reduced spindle speed, Western Digital can launch WD Red and WD My Book hard drives of the same capacity in the coming weeks or months. Meanwhile, it is interesting to note that recently Western Digital cut down the price of its WD Purple 8 TB HDD by 30% and it can now be acquired for $281.99 from Amazon.