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Western Digital launches newer, faster SSD drives

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January 7, 2015

Western Digital said today it is launching faster 4 TB hybrid flash/disk drives at Storage Visions 2015.

They are built with 3.5-inch form factors, with up to 128 GB SSD and the SATA Express PCIe interface is included with the flash. Disk components are presented as a single volume.

The two demos we received for review include commercially available AS Rock and Gigabyte motherboards with cabled SATA Express PCIe interconnect flexibility and single-volume caching, along with RAID configuration options.

The SATA Express PCIe scheme has multiple PCIe lanes and two SATA 3.0 (6 Gbit/s) ports active through a single host SATA Express connector.

WD demonstrated hard disk drives connected using SATA Express in June 2014, with partners ASUS and Gigabyte.

Hybrid flash/disk drives offer disk levels of capacity and near-SSD performance at lower prices.

We were sampling WD 2.5-inch hybrid drives back in January 2013 with 500 GB and 1 TB disk drives and up to 24 GB of flash.

Western Digital launched a 1 TB drive with 120 GB of flash in November 2013. For its part, Seagate announced a 3.5-inch desktop SSHD in March 2013 with 1 or 2 TB of capacity and 8 GB of flash in the case.

Its main hybrid focus has been on 2.5-inch drives, starting with Momentus XTs in 2010, and laptop SSHDs in 2013, plus its Enterprise Turbo SSHD with 600 GB of disk capacity and 16 GB of flash in June 2013.

Currently it is shipping 500 GB to 1 TB Laptop and Ultra Mobile SSHDs plus its 1 to 4 TB Desktop SSHD with up to 8 GB of flash and a SATA 3.0 interface.

Toshiba also had its MQ-01-ABFH hybrid (320 to 500 GB) in June 2013. WD has been focussing on building in greater amounts of flash than Seagate.

Western Digital said that in its "labs, WDs SATA Express 4 TB drive with 64 GB cache achieved a PC Mark 8 benchmark score of 4459, demonstrating near-SSD performance at an optimized GB-per-dollar value".

The 4 TB hybrid model being much faster than a 4 TB HDD, as well as costing less, and almost as fast as a 256 GB SSD makes it interesting.

It's also faster than two other hybrid flash/disk drives. Which supplier made these 2 TB and 4 TB products? We suspect they were Seagate Desktop SSHD products and WD is beating them on performance by having much more than 8 GB of flash available as well as using the SATA Express interface.

We see the industry moving toward simplification of the overall PC subsystem to a single storage bus-based around the PCIe protocol," said Gary Meister, WD's vice president of engineering.

There is no doubt that Western Digital is breathing down hard on Seagate's neck these days, and it looks like the heat will be intensifying in the next few months.

Source: Western Digital.

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