Western Digital announces 26TB hard drives and 15TB server SSDs

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Enlarge / The new 26 and 22 TB hard drives from Western Digital.

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Western Digital yesterday announced a slew of new products aimed at both consumer PCs and large enterprises with storage-hungry servers. The headliners are two new hard drives with huge capacities – one 26TB and one 22TB – as well as high-capacity SSDs for servers, internal and external performance-focused WD Black SSDs, and SSDs. mid-range PCIe 4.0 that might end up in your next pre-built laptop or desktop PC.

The 26TB Ultrastar DC HC670 drives use a technology called Shingled Magnetic Recording, or SMR, to increase the amount of data that can fit on each platter, at the expense of performance. WD uses SMR technology in its WD Red Pro line of hard drives, among others, which is aimed at businesses rather than individuals. WD Red Plus drives, introduced after WD was briefly caught using SMR technology in its hard drives without making it public, instead use the more traditional Conventional Magnetic Recording (CMR).

The 22TB drive uses CMR technology, increasing capacity while maintaining performance. Current CMR drives typically exceed 20TB at the time of this writing. Other 22TB hard drives we’ve seen from companies like Seagate have had to rely on SMR technology to achieve this capacity. This drive will appear in many Western Digital product families, including the Ultrastar, WD Purple, WD Red, and WD Gold lines. All new discs should be available this summer.

By moving to SSDs, capacities decrease, but enterprise-grade drives come closer. The UltraStar DC SN650 NVMe SSDs use a PCIe 4.0 interface and will be available in E1.L 2.5-inch and super long versions, with capacities up to 15.36TB each. These discs are currently being sampled and will begin shipping “in the second half of 2022”.

The WD Black SN850X and WD Black P40 Game Drive external SSDs.

The WD Black SN850X and WD Black P40 Game Drive external SSDs.

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There are two new WD Black SSDs. The SN850X SSD is a relatively light spec bump to the existing WD Black SN850 SSD; it’s a high-end PCIe 4.0 SSD that WD claims offers read speeds of up to 7300MB/s (compared to 7000MB/s for the SN850). The WD Black P40 Game Drive Solid State Drive is an external drive for gamers who don’t want to open up their gaming consoles or laptops to add more high-speed storage. It promises read speeds of up to 2000MB/s, though it may need a 2×2 20Gbps USB 3.2 port (or Thunderbolt 3/4 port) to achieve those speeds ; transfer speeds will be more limited for typical 5 and 10 Gbps USB ports. Like so many gamer-focused accessories, the P40 will include user-customizable LED lighting.

The SN850X will be available in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB capacities, with the 1TB drive starting at $189.99. The P40 external SSD is available in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB versions, with prices starting at $119.99. Both will be available this summer.

WD also announced a new SN740 PC SSD, a midrange drive with a PCIe 4.0 interface and read speeds of up to 5,150 Mbps. That’s not terribly exciting for PC builders or anyone whose laptop can accommodate a typical 80mm long M.2 SSD – the WD Black SN770 matches its core specs and has been available for months – but the SN740 is primarily aimed at business PCs, which means it has a good chance of ending up in your next pre-built laptop or desktop.

M.2 2230 SSDs are shorter than typical M.2 2280 SSDs.  They're mostly used in pre-built PCs like Microsoft's Surface line, and high-capacity replacements can be tricky to find.
Enlarge / M.2 2230 SSDs are shorter than typical M.2 2280 SSDs. They’re mostly used in pre-built PCs like Microsoft’s Surface line, and high-capacity replacements can be tricky to find.

Andrew Cunningham

One thing to note about the SN740 is that it comes in a 30mm long M.2 2230 variant, which could be useful for upgrading laptops and tablets that use shorter SSDs than habit. Most Surface devices that support user-upgradable storage, including the Surface Pro 8, use M.2 2230 drives, but higher-capacity versions are hard to buy for. upgrades after the fact, because disks are so scarce. The SN740 is also aimed at PC OEMs rather than end users – it may not be available for ordinary people to buy outright – but it could be another potential aftermarket option.

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