whole lotta storage —
26TB drives use SMR technology, while new 22TB disks use faster CMR tech.
Western Digital announced a raft of new products yesterday aimed at both regular consumer PCs and big businesses 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 mid-range PCIe 4.0 SSDs that could end up in your next prebuilt laptop or desktop PC.
The 26TB Ultrastar DC HC670 drives use tech called shingled magnetic recording, or SMR, to boost the amount of data that can fit on each platter, at the expense of performance. WD uses SMR technology across its WD Red Pro hard drive lineup, among others, which is targeted at businesses rather than home users. The WD Red Plus drives, introduced after WD was briefly caught using SMR technology in its hard drives without publicizing it, use the more traditional conventional magnetic recording (CMR) instead.
The 22TB drive does use CMR technology, boosting capacity while retaining performance. Current CMR drives mostly top out at 20TB as of this writing. Other 22TB hard drives we’ve seen from companies like Seagate have had to rely on SMR technology to reach that capacity. This drive will show up in many of Western Digital’s product families, including the Ultrastar, WD Purple, WD Red, and WD Gold lineups. All of the new drives are expected to be available sometime this summer.
Moving onto the SSDs, capacities go down, but the enterprise-grade drives are getting closer. The UltraStar DC SN650 NVMe SSDs use a PCIe 4.0 interface and will come in both 2.5-inch and super-long E1.L versions, with capacities of up to 15.36TB apiece. These drives are sampling now and will begin shipping “in the second half of 2022.”
There are two new WD Black SSDs. The SN850X SSD is a relatively mild spec bump for the existing WD Black SN850 SSD; it’s a high-end PCIe 4.0 SSD that WD says features read speeds of up to 7,300MBps (compared to 7,000MBps for the SN850). The WD Black P40 Game Drive SSD is an external drive aimed at gamers who don’t want to crack open their consoles or gaming laptops to add more high-speed storage. It promises read speeds of up to 2,000MBps, though it may need a 20Gbps USB 3.2 2×2 (or a Thunderbolt 3/4 port) to realize these speeds; transfer speeds will be more limited for typical 5 and 10Gbps 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 external P40 SSD comes in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB flavors, with prices starting at $119.99. Both will be available sometime this summer.
WD also announced a new PC SN740 SSD, a mid-range drive with a PCIe 4.0 interface and read speeds up to 5,150MBps. This isn’t terribly exciting for PC builders or anyone whose laptop can fit a typical 80-mm-long M.2 SSD—the WD Black SN770 matches its key specs and has been available for months—but the SN740 is targeted mostly at PC companies, which means it stands a good chance of ending up in your next prebuilt laptop or desktop.
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One thing to note about the SN740 is that it comes in a 30-mm-long M.2 2230 variant, one that could be useful for upgrading laptops and tablets that use the shorter-than-usual SSDs. Most Surface devices that support user-upgradeable storage, including the Surface Pro 8, use M.2 2230 drives, but it’s difficult to buy higher-capacity versions for upgrades after the fact because the drives are so rare. The SN740 is also aimed at PC manufacturers rather than end users—it may not be available for regular people to buy directly—but it could be another potential aftermarket option.
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