Storage giant Western Digital has just announced a slew of new products as it seeks to cement its leadership position in the increasingly important storage industry. With the massive expansion of working from home and the massive shift to streaming entertainment, data storage is becoming a central part of modern digital life.
Alongside energy and water, storage is now a critical utility for industry and is being driven by the huge expansion of storage and cloud computing, as well as more distributed computing now that so many of us are hybrid workers, dividing work time between home and office.
Western Digital is probably better known as WD these days and the company has some 300 million customers and addresses this growing market opportunity with products from four major brands: Western Digital, SanDisk Consumer, SanDisk Professional and WD_BLACK disks for gamers.
Each brand addresses a distinct 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 a leader in setting storage standards and achieving new technology milestones.
The Western Digital brand specializes in the development and manufacture of high-performance, high-capacity hard drives and flash drives. In the era of NAND solid-state storage, you could be forgiven for thinking old-fashioned spinning hard drives are yesterday’s technology, but not according to Rob Soderbery, executive vice president and general manager of the Western Digital’s flash business unit.
Soderbery says server farms — or data centers — run by cloud computing companies are gobbling up huge amounts of storage. While servers run on solid-state storage, data downloaded by end users ends up being stored on hard drives. This is where WD is leading the way with some new drives it announced at Western Digital’s What’s Next event held today at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco.
The two new data center drives announced are the storage industry’s first 22TB CMR and 26TB UltraSMR hard drives, featuring a 50% capacity increase. Using the same 3.5-inch enclosure we’ve all known and loved for many years, the 22TB Ultrastar DC HC570 and 26TB Ultrastar DC HC670 hard drives are now rolling out to select WD hyperscale customers.
Both drives manage to pack in more surface area density than ever before using WD’s OptiNAND technology which mixes the flash with the hard drive in a fusion arrangement. The two new drives can handle massive amounts of data and that’s just as well as the amount of data uploaded to data centers keeps growing. Currently, 500 hours of new videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute of the day.
Along with the two new hard drives, Western Digital also announced its largest 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 ultra-storage. fast for data centers that need the fastest storage technology available. In addition to increasing speed, the smaller 2.5-inch form factor of Ultrastar NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSDs accelerates cloud service deployment and data center scaling by enabling more drives to be s adapt to each rack.
With the massive work-from-home boom, the sale of new computers has increased from 280 million units each year to 350 million units. All computers need storage, and Western Digital’s SanDisk Consumer division is happy to supply. The new SN740 NVMe SSD is just one such drive and offers a 1.5x speed bump while having lower power requirements and an ultra-thin 30mm form factor. More of these high-performance drives will ship in OEM laptops and power the entire work-from-home industry.
Another of Western Digital’s brands is SanDisk Professional. This new product line is aimed at experienced storage users such as Hollywood film studios. The current maximum size of 512GB of storage drive used for recording 12K video is now full after just 15 minutes of shooting. For those users, SanDisk Professional has announced its new line of Pro Blade SSDs available in 1.2 and 4TB configurations, increasing the capacity of one camera to two hours of footage.
Launching alongside these new drives is the four-bay storage station for transferring high-speed footage ready for editing. Western Digital believes the new Pro Blade line will change the workflow of the film industry and bring a new level of security, ensuring that only authorization personnel can access data.
Finally, the WD_BLACK product line continues to launch new products to serve the 73 million active subscribers to gaming platforms worldwide. Some of these games can take up to 100GB of disk space and it doesn’t take long before many gamers run out of storage. For this market, WD_BLACK announced the SN850X today at the What’s Next event.
The new WD_BLACK SSD has a maximum speed of 7300MB/s and is smart enough to predict load demands. The player also has a Game Mode 2.0 feature that takes care of housekeeping in the background to give gamers an edge.
It appears that Western Digital is determined to maintain its position as the leader in storage technology and these new products are all carefully targeted to the company’s core markets where it is seeing maximum growth. Storage is at the heart of modern digital life and that means Western Digital should have a bright future ahead of it as long as it continues to innovate.