Western Digital Reimagines The Hard Drive

Company Leverages Core HDD and Flash Capabilities to Help Customers Meet Exponential Demand for Data Storage; Innovative Drive Architecture Sets New Areal Density Milestone

SAN JOSE, CA - August 31, 2021

At the company’s HDD Reimagine event today, Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ: WDC) introduced a new flash-enhanced drive architecture that breaks traditional boundaries of storage. Building on the company’s unique ability to innovate with HDD and flash, the new storage architecture with OptiNAND™ technology optimizes and integrates HDDs with iNAND® embedded flash drives. This gives customers – like hyperscale cloud, CSPs, enterprises, smart video surveillance partners, NAS suppliers and more – a solution to meet the exponential growth in data creation by delivering the capacity, performance and reliability needed to store vast amounts of data today and well into the future.

Leveraging industry-first technologies including triple-stage actuator (TSA) and HelioSeal® technology, the first products featuring the new drive architecture will deliver an unsurpassed 2.2TB per platter, extending capacities gains on proven ePMR technology. Setting a new industry milestone, Western Digital has shipped samples of new nine-disk, 20TB ePMR flash-enhanced drives with OptiNAND technology to select customers.

“Western Digital has a history of hard drive architecture innovations, such as when HGST (now part of Western Digital) first hermetically sealed and shipped helium HDDs in 2013,” said Ed Burns, research director for hard disk drives at IDC. “Driven by the growth of AI, ML, blockchain, IoT, sensors and more, there’s no doubt that new storage innovations are needed to store and protect today’s data growth, especially at scale. As the only company manufacturing both flash and HDDs, Western Digital can uniquely leverage their in-house capabilities to extend the areal density curve of ePMR drives for generations to come, helping customers meet the growing demands of a digital economy.”

“This new architecture is a natural extension of Western Digital’s strengths and capabilities, delivering a new evolution of storage to the market,” said Billy Chen, vice president of New H3C Group, president of Compute and Storage Product Line. “As an early customer, the OptiNAND technology is exciting as it will help us meet our storage needs for years to come.”

New Flash-Enhanced Drive with OptiNAND Technology
Unlike a hybrid drive where flash is used to store user data, the new architecture is a breakthrough in storage that works differently, enabling advances on multiple dimensions of storage capability. By adding vertically integrated iNAND to its world-class HDDs, and with enhanced firmware algorithm and SoC innovations, Western Digital’s flash-enhanced drives with OptiNAND technology deliver improved capacity, performance and reliability to help customers meet growing storage demands. A technology brief can be found here. Highlights include:

  • Capacity: The drive works smarter, with enhanced firmware algorithms taking advantage of expanded metadata that has been offloaded to the iNAND, enabling more tracks per inch (TPI) with resulting increased areal density.

  • Performance: Drive latency is improved with proprietary optimizations to drive firmware focused on requiring fewer adjacent track interference (ATI) refreshes and reducing the need for write cache flushes in write cache-enabled mode.

  • Reliability: Nearly 50x more customer data can be retained in the event of an emergency power off (EPO) scenario, and with Western Digital’s unique capabilities in vertically integrated supply, design, development, testing and qualification of flash-enhanced drives, customers can count on the drive’s reliability.

“With our IP and world-class development teams in HDD and flash, we are able to continuously push the boundaries of innovation to improve our customers’ storage infrastructure,” said Siva Sivaram, president of Global Technology and Strategy, Western Digital. “We have had an extraordinary journey of HDD innovation. We changed everything with HelioSeal in 2013; were first to ship energy-assisted HDDs in volume in 2019; and now we’re going to lead again with OptiNAND technology. This architecture will underpin our HDD technology roadmap for multiple generations as we expect that an ePMR HDD with OptiNAND will reach 50TB1 in the second half of the decade.”

Availability
The new flash-enhanced drive architecture with OptiNAND technology will be available across the company’s portfolio of drives and storage platforms. It will also serve as the foundation for future designs and innovations, with further advances to come in intelligence, reliability, capacity and time-to-market value. The company will begin announcing market-specific, purpose-built products across its portfolio later this year.

Additional Resources:

About Western Digital
Western Digital creates environments for data to thrive. As a leader in data infrastructure, the company is driving the innovation needed to help customers capture, preserve, access and transform an ever-increasing diversity of data. Everywhere data lives, from advanced data centers to mobile sensors to personal devices, our industry-leading solutions deliver the possibilities of data. Western Digital data-centric solutions are comprised of the Western Digital®, G-Technology™, SanDisk® and WD® brands.

1. One terabyte (TB) is equal to one trillion bytes.  Actual user capacity may be less due to operating environment. 

Western Digital, the Western Digital logo, iNAND, HelioSeal and OptiNAND are registered trademarks or trademarks of Western Digital Corporation or its affiliates in the US and/or other countries. All other marks are the property of their respective owners. Pictures shown may vary from actual products. 

© 2021 Western Digital Corporation or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

Forward-Looking Statements 
This news release contains certain forward-looking statements, including the expected applications, availability, benefits, features and performance of, as well as growth opportunities and demand trends for, OptiNAND technology.  There are a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause these forward-looking statements to be inaccurate including, among others: future responses to and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; volatility in global economic conditions; impact of business and market conditions; impact of competitive products and pricing; our development and introduction of products based on new technologies and expansion into new data storage markets; risks associated with cost saving initiatives, restructurings, acquisitions, divestitures, mergers, joint ventures and our strategic relationships; difficulties or delays in manufacturing or other supply chain disruptions; hiring and retention of key employees; our substantial level of debt and other financial obligations; changes to our relationships with key customers; disruptions in operations from cyberattacks or other system security risks; actions by competitors; risks associated with compliance with changing legal and regulatory requirements and the outcome of legal proceedings; and other risks and uncertainties listed in the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the company’s most recently filed periodic report, to which your attention is directed. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof, and the company undertakes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

Press Contacts

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