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Western Digital shows gains from acquisitions

Western Digital told financial analysts its business will be better than expected this quarter, and added solid-state drives (SSDs), hard-disk drives (HDDs) and an all-flash array platform to its portfolio.

WD updated its quarterly forecast to $4.75 billion from $4.7 billion at its analyst day this week. It also gave details on NVMe products from its SanDisk and HGST acquisitions and expanded its helium HDD line.

New NVMe all-flash array coming

WD previewed a 2U all-flash platform that the vendor claims will deliver 18 million IOPS using NVMe over PCIe fabric. The first system is due to ship in the first half of 2017. WD pledged to contribute software supporting the platform to the open source community.

WD will position the NVMe array for real-time and streaming analytics applications such as credit card fraud detection, video stream analysis, location-based services, advertising servers, automated systems, and solutions built on artificial intelligence or machine learning (ML).

The new system is part of WD’s InfiniFlash brand it gained as part of its SanDisk acquisition. Dave Tang, GM of WD’s data center systems, said WD will eventually expand the platform to include NVMe over Ethernet, which supports longer distances than PCIe but has more latency. Scalability of NVMe over PCIe is limited to either a single rack or an adjacent rack.

“We think customers interested in ultimate performance will go to NVMe over PCIe, and those looking for scalability may opt for NVMe over Ethernet,” Tang said. “They will co-exist and serve different purposes in the data center.”

Tang said he suspects NVMe over Ethernet support remains a few years away. Widespread adoption will require more expensive 100-Gigabit Ethernet. Also, NVMe over Ethernet standards are still evolving.

SSDs, HDDs expand capacities

WD added two SSDs, the Ultrastar SN200 and Ultrastar SS200 Series. The SN200 is an NVMe PCIe SSD and the SS200 is a SAS SSD drive. Both are available in 2.5-inch and Half-Height, Half-Length form factors and in capacities up to 7.68 TB.

The NVMe SSDs are built for cloud and hyperscale storage and big data analytics.The SAS SSDs are aimed at hyper-converged and other server-based storage that use a dual-port design and SAS interface. The UltraStar line comes from WD’s 2012 HGST acquisition.

 WD also said it would ship new higher capacity helium and Singled Magnetic Recording (SMR) HDDs. The Ultrastar He12 is a 12 TB 3.5-inch SAS/SATA drive. It will be the highest capacity helium drive on the market. WD and rival Seagate currently ship 10 TB Helium drives. WD will also add a 14 TB SMR He12 drive, which surpasses its current 10 TB SMR capacity drives.

The Ultrastar SN200 and SS200 SSDs are expected to be generally available in the first quarter of 2017 with the He12 Helium drive expected in the first half of 2017 and the 14 TB SMR drive around the middle of next year.