Print 49 comment(s) - last by initialised.. on Jun 19 at 9:01 PM

HDD maker WD launches new line of SSDs

Western Digital today launched its SiliconDrive III solid state drive storage products, with technology based from its acquisition of SiliconSystems in March.

WD will release 2.5-inch SATA and PATA and a 1.8" Micro SATA that have read speeds up to 100MB/s and write speeds up to 80MB/s, with storage capacities up to 120GB.

The SSDs are being targeted for the enterprise market, though it's likely WD will release SSDs designed more for home PC users.  Pricing and availability remain unknown for the SiliconDrive III line.

"SiliconDrive III is the first example of how WD plans to productize solid state technology developed by SiliconSystems," WD SSD business unit vice president Michael Hajeck said in a statement.  "The launch of SiliconDrive III will also enable WD to leverage its global sales and distribution channels to accelerate the adoption of SSD technology beyond SiliconSystems' traditional embedded systems OEM customer base into data streaming applications such as multimedia content delivery systems and data center media appliances."

SSDs remain more expensive than traditional hard disk drives, but are growing in popularity as the storage capacity and price per gigabyte continues to drop.  The lack of moving parts means they are more stable and also run cooler than regular HDDs, which make them ideal in the data center.

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By Meinolf on 6/16/2009 4:58:38 PM , Rating: 5
The more and more companies making these the price will start to come down.

RE: Cool
By Regs on 6/16/09, Rating: -1
RE: Cool
By xti on 6/16/2009 5:20:13 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Cool
By amanojaku on 6/16/2009 5:22:24 PM , Rating: 5
I guess you haven't seen the $130-$250 Blu-Ray players, then. They used to be $1000 and up. No matter how expensive someone wants to sell a product SOMEONE will come out with a cheaper one. That's competition for you.

RE: Cool
By xsilver on 6/16/2009 6:11:38 PM , Rating: 5
sssshhhh! Otherwise you wont get a present from communist santa.

its a potato btw.

RE: Cool
By drebo on 6/17/09, Rating: -1
RE: Cool
By Belard on 6/17/2009 9:27:56 AM , Rating: 3
Lets not forget about the Torture Bunnies.

They love water.

RE: Cool
By therealnickdanger on 6/17/09, Rating: -1
RE: Cool
By erple2 on 6/17/2009 3:58:05 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe he won't go on vacation as much ...

RE: Cool
By Belard on 6/18/2009 7:13:47 AM , Rating: 2
Too bad the idiot didn't move back there and live, since he spent SOOOO much time there.

Don't forget, how much time is "vacationed" during 2001, since he had nothing else important to do.

RE: Cool
By Chocobollz on 6/17/2009 2:29:32 PM , Rating: 2
No.. He mean Santa Claus.. in a communist country, that's why he said "Communist Santa".. Pretty obvious huh? No? Well.. tell you what, I think I don't really knows what he's talking about :P

RE: Cool
By jadeskye on 6/17/2009 4:32:38 AM , Rating: 2
Not only that, Western digital are perhaps one of the top 3 best HDD producers for performance. Hopefully the legacy of the raptor will follow WD into their SSDs. We need a new model to join intel and OCZ's top of the line.

RE: Cool
By inperfectdarkness on 6/17/2009 6:34:50 AM , Rating: 2
i hope they keep the raptors going. i'd prefer to have the raptors drop in cost to levels very close to hdd's (per Gb).

when that happens, they'll make great mass-storage drives.

RE: Cool
By Cheesew1z69 on 6/17/2009 12:13:16 PM , Rating: 2
drop in price to levels of hdd's? raptors ARE a hdd.....

RE: Cool
By DerwenArtos12 on 6/18/2009 1:37:09 PM , Rating: 2
And yet they're practically priced like an SSD.

Ok, not quite that bad, but they're about half way between...

RE: Cool
By therealnickdanger on 6/17/2009 10:43:00 AM , Rating: 2
I think I just wet myself thinking about a Raptor SSD. Of course, I think the only way they will be able to compete will be a PCIe device like OCZ and Patriot (and others I'm sure) are making. SATA is just too slow nowadays for top o'the line.

RE: Cool
By teohhanhui on 6/17/2009 2:17:30 PM , Rating: 2
I'd rather have them make entry-level SSDs that are actually affordable. Like a SSD counterpart of the VelociRaptor with similar price and performance.

S1 or s2?
By Souka on 6/16/2009 6:12:57 PM , Rating: 2
So WD made a SiliconDrive I & II already? I don't recall them...

So I assume "III" is better right? :)

RE: S1 or s2?
By amanojaku on 6/16/09, Rating: 0
RE: S1 or s2?
By InfantryRocks on 6/16/2009 6:55:30 PM , Rating: 5
Whoa! Better switch to decaf, dude...

RE: S1 or s2?
By amanojaku on 6/16/2009 7:08:47 PM , Rating: 5
I was thinking of kicking cats and spitting on old ladies, but I'll try decaf first.

RE: S1 or s2?
By catavalon21 on 6/16/2009 6:53:19 PM , Rating: 2
Better? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose; however, WD does advertise all three.

RE: S1 or s2?
By Jeffk464 on 6/16/2009 9:49:46 PM , Rating: 2
I can't wait until these things hit the under $150 market. They are perfect for laptops because of the low energy consumption. These with led backlight displays will make batter life much better.

RE: S1 or s2?
By nubie on 6/17/2009 3:19:14 AM , Rating: 2

Last month you could choose between a SuperTalent or an OCZ Vertex (the same controller) for $108-$138

You need to specify what you are talking about.

(granted I wish it was 80GB instead of 32GB, but do you really need to keep all your media files on an SSD? Just the programs and OS is fine for me.)

RE: S1 or s2?
By Silver2k7 on 6/17/2009 6:19:28 AM , Rating: 2
"I can't wait until these things hit the under $150 market."

Can't wait until they are 500GB and 500MB/s for $150 ;)

RE: S1 or s2?
By Chocobollz on 6/17/2009 2:45:43 PM , Rating: 2
LOL then you should buy a lot of sleeping pills and pray that when you wakes up, the price has reached that point :P

By ICBM on 6/16/2009 5:22:07 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder what controller these are using. Speeds aren't exactly great, but with the correct controller, these would still feel fairly snappy.

RE: Controller?
By clovell on 6/16/2009 5:26:18 PM , Rating: 5
Seriously, why even bother writing an article about it if you can't tell us Controller and SLC/MLC? For a tech site, DT is starting to suck.

RE: Controller?
By TomZ on 6/16/2009 5:40:34 PM , Rating: 2
As far as I can tell, WDC hasn't released those details yet. At least I wasn't able to find them.

RE: Controller?
By clovell on 6/17/2009 3:17:33 PM , Rating: 4
Well, come on - is this a tech site or a regurgitated RSS feed? If they don't know, then FFS, shoot WD an email or schedule an interview or call them on the phone... ya know - stuff that real reporters do.

RE: Controller?
By ColossusX on 6/17/2009 3:59:07 PM , Rating: 2
hmmm...I've never had any illusions that the writers do "stuff that real reporters do." For the most part, they get newsfeeds, sometimes rehash them, and then post them as their own. Basically its now just a RSS feed with some opinion thrown in, instead of true reporting.

RE: Controller?
By jay401 on 6/16/2009 5:45:44 PM , Rating: 2
They also completely missed a primary concern for data centers in the last paragraph: Durability over time and use. Until more data is available to support the claimed longevity of SSDs, you won't see too many data centers replacing HDDs (a known entity) with SSDs (a still-to-be-proven entity), despite the other positive attributes SSDs have.

Great!.... But....
By rudolphna on 6/16/2009 5:21:48 PM , Rating: 1
Ok I am glad WD is getting in the market, I love their HDDs, I won't buy anybody elses.... But does anybody else see a potential problem here? Unless the price is substantially lower than others available, the speeds for these drives seem... Well, underwhelming to be honest.

RE: Great!.... But....
By Natfly on 6/16/2009 5:36:04 PM , Rating: 2
The drives are designed for embedded systems, not consumer use. They are probably more focused on reliability and power use than pure speed. But that being said, without the specs, who knows for sure.

RE: Great!.... But....
By walk2k on 6/16/09, Rating: 0
RE: Great!.... But....
By PrezWeezy on 6/16/2009 7:23:47 PM , Rating: 3

These numbers are actually rather similar to Intel's drives, although Intel squeezes out an extra 30 MB/s in read. The fact is that even though there are several drives out there that offer "better" numbers, those aren't realistic. Sequential performance is almost completely useless for a desktop or any system drive. What you really want is random and they didn't give us numbers for that (at least in the article). I believe these could end up being faster than the OCZ drives, perhaps coming close to Intel. We just won't know until they get tested thoroughly.

RE: Great!.... But....
By philosofool on 6/16/2009 7:40:34 PM , Rating: 4
Theoretical read/write speeds mean very little in SSD performance. Performance in many tasks is mostly a function of the memory controller, not peak performance numbers. You have to look at benchmarks to get an idea of how well they perform.

RE: Great!.... But....
By cheetah2k on 6/16/2009 9:49:49 PM , Rating: 1
Traditionally, its been Seagate, Hitachi, and other mainstream hard drive manufacturers to hit the market with new tech, while WD patently waited to see market interest.

I'm extremly impressed that WD has beat even Seagate this time ( who seemed to have dropped the ball moving into SSD.

Good stuff WD. All I need now is for them to make 1.8" PATA drives (currently only micro SATA in that size) for my Macbook Air & Viliv S5 Mid :-D

They need to bring the facts.
By nubie on 6/17/2009 3:25:42 AM , Rating: 2
WD needs to get the relevant specs out in the open.

Thanks to great reviews from Anandtech consumers with their eyes open know what really counts.

(I have seen some piss-poor "reviews" on other sites that poo-poo the need for fast random reads and writes, needless to say they have lost a lot of their credibility with me, one wonders what they are paid for their "review-vertisements")

I hope that competition will bring the useful performance in line and bring up the level of what is considered "good enough", until it really is good enough.

I was amazed that it actually took convincing to get OCZ to tune their firmware for good performance over raw bulk transfer speed; but I am glad that they chose to listen and moved a portion of the market forward.

RE: They need to bring the facts.
By jamesvz on 6/17/2009 7:43:45 AM , Rating: 2
Here is a link with all the specs for the new and old drives.

RE: They need to bring the facts.
By nubie on 6/17/2009 2:46:30 PM , Rating: 2
As I said, they provide no useful specifications (except for those moving large contiguous files, a ridiculous performance metric for a 30-120GB drive).

Table 1: System Performance
Read Transfer Rate Up to 100MBps
Write Transfer Rate Up to 80MBps
Burst Transfer Rate 3.0Gbps

They need maximum random read and write latency on seasoned drives.

The worst thing possible is for the system partition to be on a drive that will freeze solid for .5 - 3 seconds, rendering the entire system stuck. Especially when that happens with a large read or write queue, so it will freeze up again continuously for several minutes.

Such a drive would be useless, so a wise person would seek (yes it is a pun) to purchase a drive that won't do that. Since WD is not providing the specs you tend to be suspicious.

RE: They need to bring the facts.
By erple2 on 6/17/2009 4:16:42 PM , Rating: 2
I would agree with everything you've said. However, the read and write transfer rates are pretty "low" - From that Anandtech article, I understand that there are optimizations that you can do for one particular aspect. Optimizing for very high sequential reads or writes (>200 MB/s) tends to make your random read/write performance horrifying (though intel's X-25E series appears to have overcome this). I wonder if you can infer that the random read/write performance of these drives is actually better than the non-Intel garbage that's out there? Did they heavily optimize for the random read/write case to such an extent that sequential read and write speeds are so low?

Who knows? At this point, we can only speculate.

However, I notice that all of their other products appear to be Compact Flash devices, so I wonder if that's all these drives are - parallel CF drives stuffed together. In which case the random read/write performance will also be sub-par...

Lifetime? Latency?
By guacamojo on 6/17/2009 10:31:26 AM , Rating: 2
Okay, hopefully these aren't dumb questions, but here goes:
Are SSD's based on flash technology? Doesn't flash have lifetime limits on write cycles?

Obviously you can do some cool swapping locations around algorithm in the background to balance cell usage, but over time, wouldn't these drives lose capacity as cells become unreliable? With modern OS page file usage, I'd think that that time could come sooner rather than later. Is that the case?

Of course, HDD's don't last forever either, but how do SSD's compare? Embedded systems often don't have to write as much information as a general purpose OS, and have more strict power/noise/heat/shock requirements.

RE: Lifetime? Latency?
By guacamojo on 6/17/2009 10:32:28 AM , Rating: 2
Oops, forgot part 2 of the question:

Read/write bandwidth looks good, but how does latency compare? Better than HDD's, I assume?

RE: Lifetime? Latency?
By Headfoot on 6/17/2009 3:27:56 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Lifetime? Latency?
By rudolphna on 6/17/2009 11:25:37 AM , Rating: 1
Yes, on all counts. But with wear levelling SSDs have projected lifespans far in excess of even the best mechanical harddrive. As for capacity, dont you find it odd that it has an even 120GB instead of 128? That extra 8GB is used to replace damaged and worn out cells. It is all done automatically so the user doesnt even know its happening. As for performance, flash has a <1 ms access time due to its lack of mechanical components.

By icanhascpu on 6/16/2009 10:54:53 PM , Rating: 2
What the hell controller are these using? Throughput means jacks when the vast majority of accessing comes from tiny bits of info (4k). If the I/O there is ass, then it doesn't matter how fast the drive can copy huge files, because in a normal OS workload, loading a game level, loading FF, ect, 100MB/s means squat!

Whatever happened to "Hybrid Drives"?
By Kary on 6/17/2009 11:53:51 AM , Rating: 2
Seagate had one in 2006:
(with a WHOPPING 256MB flash)
If the technology is there to make a drive with say....1TB HDD/30GB SDD for $230 AND Vista/Win7 can make sure that audio/video goes to HDD and the SDD gets smaller files/boot critical files)...

Hmmmm....$230......did I just answer my own question?

By initialised on 6/19/2009 9:01:16 PM , Rating: 2
I tried running windows7 index on an 80GB RAID 0 stripe across three 300GB Velociraptors: 5.9 turned off the pagefile, searh idexer & prefetch: 6.0. Just what will it take? PCI-E SSDs?

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
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