Storage giant Western Digital has just announced a slew of new products as it seeks to cement its position as the leader in the ever-more-important storage industry. With the massive expansion of working from home and a wholesale shift to streaming entertainment, data storage is becoming central to modern digital life.
Alongside energy and water, storage is now an essential utility for industry and is being driven by the huge expansion in cloud storage and computing, as well as more distributed computing now that so many of us are hybrid workers, splitting out working time between home and office.
Western Digital is probably better known as WD these days and the business has some 300 million customers and addresses this expanding market opportunity with products across four major brands: Western Digital, SanDisk Consumer, SanDisk Professional and WD_BLACK drives for gamers.
Each brand addresses a separate sector of the storage market by introducing innovative new products to address their pain points. It’s fair to say that Western Digital sees itself as leading the way in setting storage standards and achieving new milestones in technology.
The Western Digital brand specializes in developing and manufacturing high-performance, high-capacity HDD and flash drives. In this age of NAND solid-state storage, you could be forgiven for thinking that old-school spinning hard drives are yesterday’s technology, but not according to Rob Soderbery, the executive vice president and general manager of Western Digital’s flash business unit.
Soderbery says that server farms – or data centers – run by cloud computing companies gobble up massive amounts of storage. While the servers run on solid-state storage, the data that’s uploaded by end-users ends up being stored on hard drives. It’s here that WD is leading the way with a couple of new drives that it announced at the What’s Next Western Digital event held today at The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco.
The two new data center drives announced are the storage industry’s first 22TB CMR and 26TB UltraSMR hard disk drives which feature a 50% bump in capacity. Using the same 3.5-inch enclosure that we’ve all grown to know and love over many years, the 22TB Ultrastar DC HC570 HDD and 26TB Ultrastar DC HC670 are being rolled out to WD’s select hyperscale customers now.
The two drives manage to pack in more areal density than ever before by using WD’s OptiNAND technology which blends flash with HDD in a fusion arrangement. The two new drives can handle massive amounts of data and that’s just as well as the quantity of data being uploaded to data centers is increasing all the time. Currently, there are 500 hours of new video being uploaded to YouTube every minute of the day.
Alongside the two new HDDs, Western Digital has also announced its largest-ever solid-state storage drive in the form of the new Ultrastar PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD with a maximum capacity of 16TB. That’s a lot of super-fast storage for data centers that need the fastest storage technology available. As well as boosting speed, the smaller 2.5-inch form factor of the Ultrastar NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSDs accelerates the deployment of cloud services and data center scaling by enabling more drives to fit into each rack.
With the massive boom in people working from home, the sale of new computers has jumped from 280 million units each year to 350 million units. All the computers need storage and Western Digital’s SanDisk Consumer division is happy to oblige. The new SN740 NVMe SSD is just one of those drives and offers a speed bump of 1.5x while having lower power requirements and a wafer-thin 30mm form factor. More of these high-performance drives will be shipping inside OEM laptops and powering the whole working from home sector.
Another of Western Digital’s brands is SanDisk Professional. This new product line is aimed at power users of storage like Hollywood’s film studios. The current maximum 512GB size of storage drive used for recording 12K video is now filled after just 15 minutes of shooting. For these users, SanDisk Professional has announced its new range of Pro Blade SSDs available in 1,2 and 4TB configurations, bumping up the capacity of a camera to two hours of footage.
Launching alongside these new drives is the four-bay storage dock for transferring footage at high-speed ready for editing. Western Digital thinks the new Pro Blade range will alter the film-industry workflow and bring a new level of security, ensuring only authorizer personnel can access the data.
Finally, the WD_BLACK product line is continuing to release new products for serving the world’s 73 million active subscribers to gaming platforms. Some of these games can take up to 100GB of drive space and it’s not long before many gamers run out of storage. For this market, WD_BLACK announced the SN850X at the What’s Next event today.
The new WD_BLACK SSD has a top speed of 7,300MB/s and is intelligent enough to predict load demands. The drive also has a Game Mode 2.0 feature that takes care of background housekeeping to give gamers an edge.
It looks like Western Digital is determined to keep its position as the leader in storage technology and these new products are all carefully targeted at the company’s core markets where it sees the maximum growth. Storage is so central to modern digital life and that means Western Digital should have a rosy future ahead of it for as long as it keeps innovating.