I had the opportunity to visit Western Digital at NAB 2022 as well as attend their analyst event on May 9 (What’s Next Western Digital). Here are some announcements and previews of these information sessions.
At NAB, WDC showcased its SanDisk Professional-branded products, including the company’s new PRO-DOCK 4 media player dock, pictured below. It is a four-bay docking station that works with PRO-READER devices that offload popular camera memory cards as well as connect displays, players and A/V devices. Note that PRO-READERS can read memory cards to a computer, independently of the dock.
The docking station includes Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and can charge devices and accessories with 87W of power. Bolts on the side allow the device to be attached to a DIT card or other equipment for video production. The dock works with macOS 10.9+ or Windows 10+. An image from one of the PRO READERS is shown below.
The company also showed off its PRO-BLADE modular SSD ecosystem, see below. It consists of a PRO_BLADE SSD mag, a modular NVME SSD, a portable PRO-BLADE TRANSPORT case in which the PRO-BLADE fits for data access and a PRO-BLADE STATION. The PRO-BLADE STATION is a modular desktop NVMe SSD enclosure into which four PRO-BLADEs fit. An empty PRO-BLADE TRANSPORT costs $69.99 MRSP and PRO-BLADE loaders are available from 1TB to 4TB and priced from $179.99 to $599.99.
The PRO-BLADE TRANSPORT is a portable USB-C (20 Gbps) device offering read and write speeds of up to 2 GB/s. The PRO-BLADE can be connected to a USB-C compatible camera for high resolution recording directly to a charged PRO-BLADE SSD charger.
PRO-BLADE mags and PRO-BLADE TRANSPORTS will ship in June 2022, while the STATION is expected to ship in late 2022.
At NAB, WDC also showcased a 7.68TB G-DRIVE PRO STUDIO desktop SSD as well as G-DRIVE SSD and HDD products, including a 4TB portable SSD and a G-RAID SHUTTLE 8 that can hold up to 160TB with 20TB Ultrastar hard drives.
At the Analyst event on May 9, WDC talked about other new SSD products. These included SSDs for compute, storage, and boot/log SSDs. They also referenced Samsung’s recent announcement regarding market standards for Zone Storage SSDs. WDC said it was in high volume on BICS 4 NAND (96 layers) based SSDs and announced BICS 5 NAND (112 layers) based SSDs.
The company said that next year it will ship BICS 6 SSDS (162 layers). The company introduced its Ultrastar DC SN650 NVMe (PCIe 4.0-based) SSD with capacities up to 15+TB (TLC NAND) in a 2.5-inch form factor as well as the E1.L form factor for higher density rack storage.
WDC also announced its SN740 PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD for client computing applications with sequential read speeds of up to 5.15MB/s in a slim, low-power design. WDC was also showcasing 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 show the WD-Black SN770b NVMe SSD along with the P40 Game Drive and SN850X SSD. These products are aimed at the gaming market. The P40 Game SSD starts at $119.99 for 500GB.
Additionally, at the Analyst event on May 9, WDC talked about the future of HDDs as well as SSDs. The company said it is announcing 22TB CMR and 26TB UltraSMR hard drives for large-scale data center applications. Drives go from 9 drives in the previous generation 20TB product to 10 drives with 2.2TB storage capacity per drive and approximately 1.1 Tbpsi areal density for the CMR product. Dropbox explained how they use 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 the number of tracks per inch (TPI) to allow for greater capacity. The result is Western Digital’s new 26TB Ultrastar® DC HC670 UltraSMR hard drive that delivers 2.6TB per platter (1.3 Tbpsi areal density), delivering 18% more capacity to cloud customers optimizing their stacks for leverage the benefits of SMR. The image below shows the full range of WDC CMR and SMR hard drives with 26 and 22 TB.
Current WDC products use OptiNAND and ePMR. The 64 GB of NAND in the OptiNAND host metadata provides non-volatile caching (Armor-cache), enables high-resolution track interface management, and enables enhanced servo capabilities. The current generation of ePMR involves bias applied to the write head to reduce jitter and allow for some linear density gains. The company said it would soon announce a 2n/a generation of ePMR which includes a rotational torque oscillator (STO) to implement a form of microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) to enable higher linear recording density and enable CMR hard drives and Larger capacity SMRs as shown in the table below.
Western Digital revealed information about new HDD and SSD offerings at NAB 2022 and its analyst event on May 9, 2022. These included products for the data center, consumer, media, and media markets. and entertainment, consumers and games. WDC announced the largest capacity hard drive to date, a 26TB SMR drive and a path to higher capacities with power assisted recording.