Can Western Digital Really Reimagine the Hard-Disk Drive?

By Rich Nass

Executive Vice President

Embedded Computing Design

September 16, 2021


Can Western Digital Really Reimagine the Hard-Disk Drive?

The headline is “Western Digital Reimagines the Hard Drive.” Is that even possible? Can there really be something revolutionary in the hard-drive space? Apparently there is, as the company has come up with a flash-enhanced drive architecture that breaks traditional storage boundaries.

Combining flash memory with a rotating disk drive isn’t new, but WD’s OptiNAND technology optimizes the two in a way that hasn’t been done before. Basically, it’s a combination of the company’s traditional hard drives with its iNAND embedded flash drives, in the same package. Such a configuration is well suited for applications like hyperscale Cloud, CSPs, enterprises, and smart video surveillance.

The new drives leverage the company’s triple-stage actuator (TSA) and HelioSeal technology to deliver 2.2 Tbytes/platter. One of the sampling drives is built with nine platters for a full capacity that’s rated at 20 Tbytes.

While capacity is a key spec, the use of flash ensures that performance does not take a back seat. The architecture requires fewer adjacent track interference (ATI) refreshes and reduces the need for write cache flushes in write cache-enabled mode.

In short order, all of the WD’s drives will offer a flash-enabled alternative. In addition, market-specific offerings will be available later this year.

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Richard Nass’ key responsibilities include setting the direction for all aspects of OSM’s ECD portfolio, including digital, print, and live events. Previously, Nass was the Brand Director for Design News. Prior, he led the content team for UBM’s Medical Devices Group, and all custom properties and events. Nass has been in the engineering OEM industry for more than 30 years. In prior stints, he led the Content Team at EE Times,, and TechOnLine. Nass holds a BSEE degree from NJIT.

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