Western Digital flashes fresh Black gamer SSDs, faster flash cards

WD unveiled a SanDisk Professional brand, new BLACK SSDs, an alliance with Percona for Zoned Name Space (ZNS) storage to support MySQL Server, and a new Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 3.1 platform at its virtual FLash Perspective event yesterday.

Robert Soderbery

Its new GM for flash products, EVP Robert Soderbery said: “I look at today’s announcements as a proof point for the Western Digital strategy. We have the broadest perspective. We see the big picture. We’re 40 per cent of the bits in the world, and 35 per cent of NAND production. We serve all the markets and all the verticals.” Yep; it’s a big flash product player sure enough.

Black gaming SSDs

The WD_BLACK is a gaming SSD product line and there are three new products:

  • External D30 Game Drive SSD designed to work with next-gen consoles like PlayStation 5.  
  • D30 Game Drive SSD for Xbox designed, tested, and approved for Xbox consoles and including 1-month membership to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate,
  • Internal SN750 SE NVMe SSD with PCIe Gen4 interface for PC and laptop gamers.

The D30 Game Drive SSD has a read speed up to 900MB/sec and comes in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities starting at $89.99 in the United States. It has a detachable stand and is now available for purchase at select WD retailers, e-tailers, resellers, system integrators and the Western Digital Store.

WD does not reveal the speed of its D30 Game Drive SSD for Xbox which comes in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB7 capacities starting at $99.99 in the United States. This drive is available for pre-order from the Western Digital Store and will be available at select Western Digital retailers, e-tailers, resellers, system integrators in June 2021.

The SN750 is a DRAM-less SSD and has read speeds of up to 3,600MB/sec. It comes in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB capacities starting at $49.99 and will be available at select WD retailers, e-tailers, resellers and system integrators in the summer. You can pre-order it now at the Western Digital Store.

SanDisk Professional

A group of four SanDisk Professional products are positioned above the SanDisk consumer brand and G-Technology professional-grade SSDs, and they tend to have very long names with lots of capital letters:

  • PRO-CINEMA CFexpress VPG400 – A rugged CFexpress card for videographers and cinematographers with video recording at a minimum of 400MB/sec.
  • PRO-READER series – Four devices with a USB-CT interface supporting SuperSpeed USB 10Gbit/s and designed to be compatible with camera media including CFast, CFexpress, RED Mini-Mag, CF, microSD and SD cards. 
  • PRO-DOCK 4 – a 4-bay reader docking station supporting  four simultaneous card offloads. 
  • 4TB G-DRIVE ArmorLock Encrypted NVMe SSD and G-RAID and G-RAID SHUTTLE transportable RAID systems products featuring both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C, and suitable for transfer and 100TB backup applications.

The PRO-CINEMA CFexpress VPG400, PRO-READER, PRO-DOCK 4 is expected to be available this summer with the G-DRIVE ArmorLock rolling out in June.

Into the zone

Zoned SSDs have a controller which separates the component flash into different categories or namespaces for different workload characteristics, such as read-intensive, write-intensive and mixed. This requires a host system or other application to be zone-aware and use different zones for different types of IO. The aim is to provide longer-than otherwise endurance and better performance.

WD has allied with Percona and its open source MySQL server so that it can use WD’s Ultrastar DC ZN540 NVMe ZNS SSD. Tests run by WD indicate that a MySQL Server running on a ZN540 ZNS SSD with MyRocks can perform up to 3x more transactions per second compared to using a conventional SSD with InnoDB in write-heavy MySQL use cases. The MySQL/ZN540 combination also provides shorter and more predictable transaction latency.

WimDe Wispelaere, VP for Strategic Initiatives at WD, said: “MySQL users will be able to install the Percona Server for MySQL and get out-of-the-box support for Western Digital Zoned Namespaces SSDs.”

Percona will provide software support, performance-tuning and consulting services for the use of Percona Server for MySQL with the ZNS SSDs. The Percona Server for MySQL with ZNS SSDs will be available in the second half of calendar year 2021.

Faster UFS flash cards

WD also announced a new embedded flash platform for Universal Flash Storage (UFS) v3.1. UFS is a flash format defining tiny cards for use in digital cameras, smartphones, drones and other consumer electronic devices. The 3.1 UFS standard provides a faster write speed than UFS 3.0 using a pseudo SLC cache (Write Booster), uses less power (Deep Sleep) and will alert hosts if temperature rises require performance throttling.

There will be an up to 90 per cent increase in write speed with its UFS 3.1 cards over UFS 3.0, according to WD, making them suitable for 5G, WiFi6 and 8K video use.

WD says it has developed UFS 3.1 products, starting with a new family for mobile and consumer applications, and is working with hardware ecosystem partners to enable it on their upcoming products. It expects to deliver products to market in the second half of this year.

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