Western Digital Releases ‘Gold’ HDDs for Datacenters

Coloured drives have long been a mainstay of Western Digital branding. The old Blue, Black, and Greens were supplemented in recent years by the addition of the Red and Purple lineups. Today, Western Digital has released a new colour, Gold, for the datacenter. The new Gold WD HDDs will co-exist with the current WD Re lineup of enterprise drives for a while but the new family will eventually supplant the old.

The 3 drives launching today are the 8TB WD8002FRYZ, 6TB WD6002FRYZ and 4TB WD4002FYYZ. The drives are all SATA 6 Gbps 3.5″ form factor with 7200rpm spindle speed, an extra large 128MB cache and using good old PMR platters. The 8TB model uses the HelioSeal helium fill that HGST, a WD subsidiary, pioneered with their drives. With lower capacities, the 6TB and 4TB are regular drives but the 6TB model does feature a ‘media cache’ to speed up writes. This sounds a lot like a NAND cache, making the 6TB Gold the first enterprise hybrid drive. 

Due to the use of helium, it’s interesting to see the 8TB drive actually has lower power consumption than the other too. On the other hand, the NAND cache makes the 6TB the best performing model. The 4TB is also somehow 18% faster than its Re predecessor. The 4TB and 6TB also feature their own form of HGST involvement as well, being made by HGST Japan. Perhaps this is a sign that Western Digital is moving their enterprise business over to their HGST division.

Seagate Revises Earnings Forecast Down

 

With each year, the decline of hard drives continues on its inexorable course, bringing down the fortunes of the companies that manufacture them. In light of this, both Seagate and Western Digital have sought to diversify their portfolio to include NAND and other flash storage technologies. For Seagate though, the transition appears to have hit them heavily.The firm has cut their revenue projections for the quarter by $100 million.

In addition to the reduced revenue, the more important margins have also shrunk by 4%, though they are still respectable at 23%. Revenue has been dropping steadily over time as well, down 22% year over year. Much of the decline comes from the weakening PC market but some of it also comes from Seagate own market position. In order to boost margins, Seagate has chosen to leave the low capacity HDD market, read 500GB and below, as they aren’t cost competitive against SSDs. This is because it is nigh impossible for a HDD to drop below $40 due to part cost, making low capacity HDDs a bad bargain against SSDs of the same capacity.

The big holdout for HDDs remains high-capacity drives which offer untouchable GB/$. Still, Seagate can’t rely on those forever so the hope is that their own SSDs gain a foot hold in the market. Another consideration is when will their SandForce purchase finally pay off with new SSD controllers. I love SMI, Phison and Marvell as much as the next guy, but give me some SandForce compression magic!

Seagate NAS 8TB (ST8000VN0002) Hard Disk Drive Review

Introduction


Just as you wouldn’t use a low-end graphics card for high-end usage, you shouldn’t use the wrong hard disk drive in your storage system either. There is a reason for every product and you should always pick the one suited for the task at hand, especially when you deal with your storage. Today I’m taking a closer look at Seagate’s impressive 8TB NAS HDD and we will take a look at how well it performs.

As said, when you pick your storage, you need to pick the right one for the task and not just grab anything you can find. This is particularly important when we talk about systems that have to run continuously and in environments with a lot of drives closely packed together. The Seagate NAS HDD goes beyond the standard desktop drives in this regards as it is built exactly for these scenarios.

Vibrations can damage your drives and the can also have a direct impact on your drives speed, and the more drives you install close to each other, the more vibrations you’ll get. The Seagate NAS HDDs are rated for usage in systems with up to 8 bays which gives you an impressive raw capacity of 64TB. The Dual-plane balance system enhances drive performance in aggressive NAS workloads for better vibration tolerance.

The Seagate NAS 8TB drive comes packed with 256MB cache, which is double that of the 6TB model. It uses the default SATA3 6GB/s interface that makes it compatible with pretty much any NAS system. The performance isn’t without either as it comes with a rating of 150 IOPS and above and a sustained sequential read performance up to 230MB/s, an exceptional performance for a mechanical drive. The pure capacity is pretty nice too considering the default 3.5-inch form factor and it has an areal density of 1333Gb per square inch. The average seek read and write latencies are rated to be 8.5ms and 9.5ms, or lower. The whole thing is rounded off with an 180TB per year workload rating, a 1 million hour mean time before failure, and a 3-year warranty.

The great performance comes from Seagate’s years of experience that the put into the hardware and also the firmware that controls the drive. NASWorks is optimized for use as storage drives and it has been tuned to deliver higher performance, a better reliability and interoperability with popular NAS enclosures, and it has the RAID Recovery feature that prevents the NAS from a full RAID rebuild if the RAID degrades. Extended error recovery controls correct data without the need for full drive rebuilds.

Performance isn’t everything, but as we’ve seen above, that part is well covered. There are two further factors that need to be considered before you decide which drives to use: Acoustics and power consumption. A drive that consumes a lot of power can quickly drive up the total cost of ownership and it’s also bad for the environment. The Seagate NAS 8TB drive has an average power consumption of 9W during active operations and an idle power consumption of 7.2W. When in sleep or standby mode, the drives will consume as little as 0.6W. The 8TB NAS HDD doesn’t make much noise either and is rated for just 2.6 bels during operation and 2.5 bels when idle.

Seagate also offers the optional +Rescue Data Recovery Services for extra peace of mind. With this extra service, Seagate has your back and can recover the data from a possible failed drive. Whether the error is due to mechanical failure or accidental damage, most data can be recovered when done right. It is a fast and easy recovery process where your data can be restored in 15 days or less. This is also a field that Seagate is very successful in with an approximately 90% success rate in data recovery.

So if you need drives for backup and disaster recovery, multimedia server and storage, file and print server sharing, archival, remote access, virtualization, or a private cloud storage, then this might be just the right drive for you.

Feature Highlights

  • 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1TB capacity options
  • Seagate NAS HDDs are built and tested to provide industry-leading performance for small NAS systems.
  • NASWorks technology supports customised error recovery controls, power management and vibration tolerance for optimal performance and reliability with workloads up to 180TB/year workload rate limit (WRL).
  • NAS error recovery controls optimise drive health by helping to ensure drives are not dropped from the NAS and sent into a RAID rebuild.
  • Improved vibration tolerance and emission in multi-drive systems with dual plane balance.
  • Advanced power management supports multiple power profiles for lowpower, 24×7 performance.
  • Quiet drive operation enhances the customer experience in living room or office environments.
  • Optional 3-year Rescue recovery service plan protects against data loss from viruses, software issues, or mechanical and electrical breakdowns in a NAS or RAID environment.

Specifications

Package and Accessories

Synology Releases DS416slim 2.5-Inch 4-Bay NAS

Synology released a new NAS that is a little different that what we’re used to seeing. First off it is very tiny and it is also a bit in reverse, but with good reason. The new Synology Diskstation DS416slim is a NAS for 2.5-inch hard disk drives and drives are plugged through the rear. With its measurements, 18.4 cm x 16.8 cm x 23.0 cm, and its low weight, 700 grams, the DS416slim is a ultra-small NAS that still packs quite a punch.

The Synology DiskStation DS416slim is built around an Armada 385 Dual Core 1.0GHz CPU and comes with 512 MB DDR3 memory. That is enough to allow this tiny unit to perform with up to 170MB/s read and 77MB/s write performance through a link aggregated windows connection. The CPU also features a dedicated hardware encryption engine.

As mentioned above, the DS416slim is capable of link aggregation and that is because it comes with two RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports on the rear panel. Whether you want to configure them for load balancing or failover protection is naturally your choice. The NAS also comes with two USB 3.0 ports for external storage and other devices, one on the front for easy access and one on the rear for more permanent connected devices.

The rear is also where you find the four drive bays that each can hold a 2.5-inch hard disk drive or solid state drive with a height up to 12.5mm. Without any real height limitation, the choice of drives to use is yours. The power consumption is rated at about 17 watts during access and just 11 watts during HDD hibernation, which also makes it a very power efficient NAS. The noise output is rated to 20.3 dBA.

As this is a Synology NAS, it naturally comes with their own impressive DSM operation system. The DSM system also just got a major overhaul and version 6.0 was just released as well. You get tons of streaming and backup options as well as mobile apps and security when you pick a DSM 6.0 powered NAS.

The new Synology DS416slim comes with a recommended retail price of £222.00 including VAT or €248.64 excluding VAT, and it is backed by a 2-year warranty.

Western Digital’s Acquisition of SanDisk Finally Approved

In a deal that has been months in the making, Western Digital today announced that their shareholders had voted to approve the $19 billion purchase of SanDisk.  It was revealed that over 90% of WD’s shareholders voted for the issuing of WD common stock connected to the purchase, while 98% of SanDisk’s shareholders voted to approve the merge. Despite some potential upsets along the way, the takeover of SanDisk is expected to be completed by the second quarter of this year.

Western Digital and SanDisk are both industry leading giants in their fields, with WD focusing on hard drives and disk management software while SanDisk is one of the largest providers of NAND flash memory-based products, including SD cards, SSDs, and USB drives. This purchase gives WD a solid entry into the NAND flash storage sector and should bring together the WD’s experience in the hard drive sector and SanDisk’s SSDs to create great results.

WD CEO Steve Milligan firmly believes that the merger is best for both companies, stating that “This combination brings together two tremendous companies and cultures ideally positioned to capture the growth opportunities in our rapidly evolving industry.” Meanwhile, SanDisk CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said the merger would allow them to “offer the broadest portfolio of industry-leading, innovative storage solutions to customers across a wide range of markets and applications.”

With SSDs rapidly gaining on HDDs in almost every way, it seems like Western Digital’s purchase of SanDisk will allow them to remain more relevant in a world that is shifting towards NAND flash storage instead of the traditional hard drive they are known for. What this merger will mean for the consumer remains to be seen, however, both companies possess a history of high quality and reliable products, so we can hope it is nothing but good.

ASUS Travelair N Wireless 1TB Hard Disk Review

Introduction


When it comes to storage you can either go the ordinary and boring route, or you can opt for something that breaks with the norm with more features than you would expect. I’m taking a closer look at ASUS’ Travelair N today which is a portable USB 3.0 hard disk drive that also works wirelessly with a built-in access point, comes with an SD card reader built-in, and has One-Touch NFC capabilities on top of the 1TB storage capacity.

The ASUS Travelair N ‏(WHD-A2) is a 1TB portable USB 3.0 hard disk drive at heart and that in itself isn’t without. You can easily carry 500 movies, thousands of photos, songs, and files with you where ever you go. An ordinary portable drive has some limitations on the road, mainly the connection interface. What if you would like to access the drive from your mobile phone or tablet? What if you are far from a power outlet? Well, that is no problem with the Travelair N that comes with built-in wireless network capabilities and a battery.

Using the 2.4GHz band, the Travelair N can connect to pretty much any wireless devices available. It is compatible with IEEE 802.11b, g, and n-style connections which cover the entire spectrum of the wireless band. The antennas are internal, so you don’t need to worry about connecting them or breaking them off either. The Travelair N uses enterprise-level WPA2 wireless security to connect with your smart phone or tablet, ensuring all of your content is kept private and secure.

Not only does it come with built-in wireless capabilities, the drive also features a built-in 3300 mAh battery that is rated for up to 8-hours usage. This should be plenty of time until you’re near a charging ability again.

And no, ASUS didn’t stop here and added more features to this drive. The Travelair N supports NFC technology for instant one-touch connection to supported devices without any configuration needs. Simply touch your NFC-supported smart phone or tablet to the drive and you can browse your media library and files straight away.

The final feature of the drive itself is the built-in SD card slot that lets you back up your data from memory cards with simple steps. This is the perfect solution to empty the memory cards onto a larger storage medium and keep shooting those photos while you got the opportunity.

ASUS created the AiDrive companion app which is available on almost any platform: iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, or Android devices. The app features an intuitive user interface to let you quickly and easily view and share your photos, videos, and files.

The Travelair N can connect with up to five devices simultaneously when transferring files and up to three devices when streaming movies in HD quality. This allows you to easily share a single drive between multiple systems, devices, and people.

A portable drive needs to have a better resistance to environmental hazards and the Travelair N features an IP43-rated water-resistant design. This should guarantee a protection from accidental splashes and spills onto the drive.

With all the talk about USB 3.0 for PC connections and wireless for mobile devices, we shouldn’t forget that we also can connect a drive like this to all our other smart devices with USB or wireless capabilities, may they be gaming consoles, smart TVs, or something else.

Feature Highlights

  • One-Touch NFC for easy connection
  • Integrated SD Card reader expands storage capacity
  • Connect up to five devices simultaneously
  • Splash-proof design with IP43 water resistance
  • Intuitive, easy-to-use companion app

Package and Accessories

ASUS packed the Travelair N in a horizontal shaped box which is unlike most that come more square. That’s very fitting for a drive like this that is anything but ordinary. The front will let you know what you purchase in a simplistic design including features and capacity.

On the rear of the box, you find a lot more details to the different functions such as environmental protection, wifi, and NFC.

Inside the box was a USB 3.0 cable, a warranty card and safety notice as well as the quick start guide. Normally there would also be an AD/DC power adapter for charging purposes, but that was missing in my review sample.

Western Digital Release New 314GB PiDrive for $31

When it comes to using the Raspberry Pi, one of the key issues is storage. Micro SD cards are limited in size and become more expensive for the larger capacity cards, and while Western Digital have offered a 1TB PiDrive for some time now, its price tag of almost $80 puts it way above the cost of the Pi itself. Now, in order to accompany the Pi 3, Western Digital have announced a smaller 314GB version of PiDrive that will cost just $31.

The new Raspberry Pi 3 may have the power to be a replacement for a fully-fledged PC, but the form factor of the board limits its hardware options. With no on-board storage, the Pi typically relies on a micro SD card slot in order to hold its operating system and other user files or an external hard drive. Unfortunately, not just any external hard drive is supported by the Pi, but Western Digital have been releasing drives specifically designed to be Pi-supported. These drives have been fine-tuned in order to drastically reduce their power draw compared to other mechanical drives and offer a small form-factor. The new PiDrive supports up to a USB 3.0 interface, which can be connected to one of the Raspberry Pi’s USB 2.0 ports. Western Digital even offer a “BerryBoot” installer that can load software and operating systems onto the Pi’s drive at boot-time.

With the Raspberry Pi becoming more and more advanced, it is good to see companies developing peripherals designed to allow the miniature PCs achieve their full potential, especially when it is provided at a price and form-factor to match the Pi itself.

SilverStone MMS01 Military-Grade USB 3.0 Enclosure Review

Introduction


If you are living an active lifestyle and still want to carry around your storage while keeping it protected the best way possible, then you need something other than a normal portable storage device. There are many rugged portable drives on the market by now and we’ve had a look at several of them already. But what if you already have a drive and want to turn that into a safe portable storage drive? Then you need something like SilverStone’s MMS01 military-grade USB 3.0 portable enclosure. Today I’m taking a closer look at how this works and how well it works.

SilverStone’s MMS01 is a thick protective enclosure that has been IP65 certified which makes it dust proof and water-resistant. The enclosure doesn’t stop there, it has been tested and proven to be immune or resistant to rapid temperature change, vibration, 1.2-meter drop, salt spray, sand, and fungal growth. You shouldn’t fully submerge a setup like this, but other than that your data’s drive is well secured.

Durability doesn’t mean that we need to sacrifice performance and the MMS01 is bound to show us some great numbers. Powered by the USB 3.0 bus and with UASP support, the only limitation is the 5 Gbps of the USB bus. The enclosure is equipped with a USB 3.0 type B port and the drive is backward compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1. Thanks to the USB interface, we don’t require any extra drivers or anything and it will work as plug-and-play with both Windows and Mac OS systems.

Inside the enclosure there is room for a drive with a height of up to 9.5mm, allowing you to mount most 2.5-inch hard disk drives. Solid state drives with the thinner 7mm height aren’t a problem either and that is what I’ll be using in my tests today.

With a weight of just 280 gram, the MMS01 is a lightweight unit despite its great protection. This is an important factor when we deal with mobile drives as no one wants to carry unnecessary weight with them. If you are looking for an enclosure that can protect your drive in the harshest environment possible, the MMS01 might be the one to get.

Feature Highlights

  • Super speed USB 3.0 and SATA 6G interface
  • Supports 7mm or 9.5mm thick 2.5” SATA hard drives or SSD
  • Supports UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) for additional performance
  • Unique anti-vibration silicone sleeve over ABS shell for complete protection
  • Adheres to US military standard (MIL-STD-810G) for thermal, drop, shock, humidity, sand, dust, and fungus resistance
  • Certified IP65 for dustproof and water resistance

Specifications

The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers information and might as such be subject to changes in possible future revisions of the product.

Package and Accessories

The colour scheme on the package fits the military theme originating from the certifications and presents the enclosure well. The front has all the vital features presented for a quick and easy view.

The rear of the package contains more details information about the specifications and a multilanguage description.

Next to the enclosure itself, we find a USB cable, an Allen key to take the enclosure apart and mount the drive as well as a manual inside the package.

ASUS Announces VivoMini VM65 Series

ASUS already got a lot of praise for their tiny Mini PCs and they’ve just announced two new systems in the series. The two new systems are called the VivoMini VM65N and the VivoMiniVM65 and they are impressive, compact, 2-liter systems that still pack quite a punch. The systems are built with Intel Skylake i3 or i5 CPUs and come with discrete Nvidia 900M series graphics card to deliver a smooth 4K visual experience and casual gaming. Don’t misunderstand this, it isn’t for gaming in 4K, naturally.

The new system can be equipped with up to 16GB DDR4 memory to be the backbone for the either an i5-6200U CPU in the VM65N and a VM65 uses an i3-6100U CPU. It also only the N model that features the Nvidia GeForce 930M graphics card with 1GB DDR3 memory while the VM65 relies on the Intel HD Graphics 520 iGPU. Both come with ASUS SonicMaster-enhanced audio to make them an ideal choice for a daily computing platform or home entertainment hub.

The tiny 2-liter systems only support one 3.5-inch drive, but you can also mount two 2.5-inch drives via Vivo DualBay adapter, effectively turning them into one as far as the system is concerned. You can get the VM665 series with either a 3.5-inch 500GB or 1TB 7200rpm HDD, 2.5-inch 500GB or 1TB 5400rpm HDD, or 2.5-inch 128GB or 256G SSD out of the box.

The VM65N comes with two USB 3.1 ports that the smaller model doesn’t have, but other than that the connections are the same. You get four USB 3.0 ports, one RJ45 LAN port, HDMI and DisplayPort with UHD 4K support, a card reader, and audio connections.

The price naturally variates based on model and the drives you want it to come with and not all models will be launched in all regions or at the same time. In the United Kingdom the VM65N will launch with a single SKU VM65N-G018Z model that features an i5-6200U CPU, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 1TB HDD, GT930M 1GB GPU, Win 10 64bit OS, Intel Dual Band 802.11ac WiFi+ BT, and with a Wireless Keyboard & Mouse included. This system will then set you back £549.99.

SSD Prices Sinking Closer to HDDs

For a long time, while SSDs have often been regarded as the higher performance drives, that performance has placed a premium on capacity. This has been changing recently, with the prices of SSDs dropping faster than their mechanical counterparts. The last quarter alone has seen the prices of SSDs drop by as much as 12%, placing them far closer in pricing than ever.

For the first quarter of 2016, DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce, reported that MLC-based SSDs had fallen by around 10-12% and TLC-based SSDs sinking by 7-12%. Following the analysis by DRAMeXchange, the price difference between a 128GB SSD and a 500GB HDD could be as little as US$3 in 2016, with the difference between the larger 256GB SSD and 1TB HDD to shrink to US$7 before the end of the year. While this would still leave the price-per-gigabyte of SSDs at almost 4-times that of HDDs, the trend is certainly in favour of the flash memory drives going into the future, with demands set only to increase and prices to shrink as SSD adoption is expected to grow at its highest annual rate between 2016 and 2022.

While many SSDs still make use of the traditional SATA interface, which makes them easy to switch over to SSDs, the rising star amongst SSDs is those with PCIe interfaces. SATA-connected SSDs are likely to make up the largest share of the SSD market in the near future, it is also anticipated that PCIe SSDs will see the largest growth. These drives, which take advantage of the high-speed of PCIe and the ability for laptop manufacturers to attach them direct provide many advantages have many advantages that will appeal to smaller form-factor PC and laptop developers and enterprises.

All of this is good news for consumers, with prices dropping and adoption rising, SSD manufacturers are battling to roll out increasingly large SSDs that incorporate more and more advanced technology. 3D NAND SSD products may still be a little while off, but 2016 is shaping up to be a very good year for SSDs.

Western Digital Introduces Consumer Helium Hard Drives

As always with most technology, helium hard drives arrived first to the enterprise segment. Over 3 years since HGST, a Western Digital subsidiary, first announced their helium-filled HDD, Western Digital is coming out with their first consumer-oriented helium hard drive. Sold under the WD instead of HGST brand, the family of drives goes up to 8TB, just a tad lower than the 10TB offered to data centres.

The family of helium filled 3.5” internal HDDs will be sold under the WD Red, Red Pro and Purple lineups. These are for NAS/RAID and surveillance system use respectively. The new helium drives will also find their way into My Cloud, My Book and My Book Duo external storage systems. Due to the helium fill, the Pro manages to sport a 7,200rpm spindle speed which is impressive for consumer 8TB drives. The Pro also features vibration protection for up to 16 drives in an enclosure while the regular drives only go up to 8. The regular Red and Purple are limited to their standard 5,400rpm.

While there are few specifications out yet, the drives should feature 1.33TB platters like their enterprise counterparts. As expected, the use of the HelioSeal and the more exotic fill does drive up costs, with prices about $70 more than Seagate’s Archive series 8TB using SMR technology. By using helium though instead of SMR to increase capacity, these WD drives will offer better performance.

Western Digital Sticks to SanDisk Buyout as Chinese Investor Exits

Despite a major investor dropping out hard disk giant Western Digital(WD) is forging ahead with their plans to acquire fellow storage firm SanDisk. Originally announced 4 months ago, the original plan was for Western Digital to shell out $19 billion to take over SanDisk. That deal however, was contingent on Western Digital getting a $3.775 billion investment from the Chinese firm Unisplednour for a 15% stake, a deal that has now been terminated.

Under the original plan, WD would have paid $85.10 per SanDisk share, a figure that has dropped to $67.50. WD will be shelling out a bit more stock though since this backup plan was put in place as WD probably didn’t have enough cash on hand without the Unisplendour investment. The Chinese firm dropped its plans to take a 15% stake due to a investigation launched by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to determine if there was a national security risk in letting Western Digital and SanDisk come under Chinese influence.

While the new deal will see WD foot more of the bill, the investment does make a lot of sense. Even as HDDs remain relevant today, NAND and other forms of storage are growing stronger every day. If Western Digital is to remain relevant, it has to diversify and who better than SanDisk, a firm that ranks third in the NAND business along with it’s current and future partner Toshiba.

ADATA Launches HD650X and HD710M USB 3.0 Hard Drives

We already had a little view on ADATA’s new drive line-up during our visit at CES 2016 in Vegas last month and now two of the new portable drives have been officially launched. The two new drives are both from the rugged series and can withstand quite a bit of mistreatment. The two newly launched drives are the HD650X designed for use with the Xbox 360 and Xbox One as well as the HD710M camouflage-styled drive.

The Xbox One currently ships with a 1TB hard drive built-in, but considering the fact that a game these days easily take up 50GB and subscribers keep getting games for free, that 1TB can quickly end up full and leave you with the decision on what to delete to make room for something else. That is where the ADATA HD650X comes into play as it adds 2TB extra storage directly to the gaming console via the USB 3.0 port. The colour scheme has also been made to match the console with its green and black. Being that this basically is a normal USB drive, it’s also compatible with Windows XP and newer as well as Mac OS X 10.6 or later and Linux Kernel 2.6 or later.

The ADATA HD710M is designed for general usage and comes in two capacity options: 1TB and 2TB. The camouflage coloured enclosure is made from the same concept that we’ve seen in previous models such as the HD720 that we recently reviewed. It is waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof to keep all your data as safe as possible. It doesn’t just have the basic IP6X cerification, but also the IPX8 and the US Army MIL-STD-810G 516.6 certification. These in combination allow the drive to be completely dust proof, extremly drop and shock resistant, and waterproof in up to 1.5 meters of water for an hour without damage to your drive or data.

ADATA didn’t reveal an official pricing, but you can expect these new drives to have a similar price to the other rugged ADATA HD drives already on the market.

Seagate Launches Their Own Helium HDD

Even as rival HGST started shipping helium based drives several years back, Seagate had managed to keep up in terms of capacity with less exotic technology. That’s all set to change as Seagate has finally launched their own helium based 10TB HDD. The new drive will do battle with the PMR based HGST Ultrastar He10 which just started shipping two months ago while the slower SMR based Ultrastar Archive Ha10 launched 7 months ago.

Just like the HGST drive, the Seagate® Enterprise 3.5 Capacity HDD features seven platters and 14 heads to read and write from them. With a helium fill, Seagate is probably running the drive at 7200rpm unlike normal drives which generally have to slow down when the platter count reaches 6. As an enterprise drive, it comes with a choice of either the standard SATA 3 port as well as the 12Gb/s SAS connector.

Reported reliability is the same as its chief competitor with 2.5 million hours MTBF, a nice bump over the usual 2 million. Due to the helium fill reducing turbulence nad allowing more platters, Seagate has stuck with PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) and not with the performance crippling SMR (shingled magnetic recording). HAMR also isn’t used since that will probably be done with air-filled drives first. While HGST/WD has beaten Seagate to the punch with Helium, Seagate may bring HAMR out first given they’ve been talking about it a lot more.

Seagate Enterprise NAS 6TB HDD Four Disk RAID Review

Introduction


We’ve already had the pleasure of a single drive review of Seagate’s Enterprise NAS 6TB HDDs and today it has become time for the RAID review. Thecus provided me with five of these drives, but I’ll only be using four in this review today. Four is a magic number when it comes to RAID and the fifth drive would most likely be set as global spare in most systems anyway, so no point in added it. Four drives also give us a great consistency with other RAID reviews done in the past.

Seagate’s Enterprise NAS drives come in capacities ranging from 1TB and all the way up to 8TB, but I only got the 6TB models in today. The Enterprise NAS series is designed for cloud-based systems and NAS application. They offer support for the use in systems with up to 16 drive bays which is a double up compared to what consumer NAS drives offer. It is very important to use a drive that is properly suited for your area of operation and not just pick any random cheap drive from the shelve. A farmer wouldn’t use an SUV to plow his fields either, it’s just not built for the task. So forget all about misleading Backblaze reports as the figures, features, and warranties speak for themselves here.

The 6TB Seagate Enterprise NAS HDD comes with 128MB cache and a spindle speed of 7200RPM. This is quite a bit more than the variable speeded drives that come with a maximum speed of 5400RPM. This makes the drives a little louder, but the Enterprise NAS HDD is surprisingly silent compared to other 7200RPM drives and only generates 2.5 bels during idle and 2.7 bels maximum during seek operations.

The average seek times are set to 8.5ms reading and 9.5ms writing. The performance is rated with up to 216MB/s sustained data rate and an average read/write rate of 154MB/s. You can run the drive in harsher environments as the Enterprise NAS HDD will work from zero to 70 degrees and can withstand up to 70Gs shocks at 2ms read and 40Gs at 2ms write. This 6TB version is built with 12 heads total for the 6 1TB disks it houses.

The Enterprise NAS drives have a long endurance and great workload ratings. The endurance is rated for 300TB a year and they have a 1.2 million hour mean time before failure rating. Seagate is also backing these drives with a 5-Year warranty and also offers optional 5-Year Rescue Data Recovery options.

The available Rescue Data Recovery Service options can save the day when the worst case scenario happens. It is an extra feature that you might want to consider when dealing with your important data. Any company is more or less lost when they lose their digital data. Seagate Recovery Services (SRS) can save the day in the following situations: RAID controller failure, Lost RAID configuration, accidental reconfiguration, accidental re-initialization of the RAID array, power surges that cause multiple drive failures simultaneously, missing RAID partitions, reformatted RAID partitions, virus damage, natural disaster, human error and drive failures. Most data can be recovered in-lab with a nearly 90% success rate.

The drives are built on customer proven technologies coupled with the newest density platters that allow for lower power consumptions, smaller overall footprint, and lower total cost of ownership over previous drive generations. The RV sensors provide strong reliable performance and the controller is flashed with NAS-optimized firmware for balanced reads and writes.

The drives naturally support ATA8 streaming commands, NCQ, and are performance tuned for RAID applications. On-the-fly ECC algorithms make sure that the data arrives as it should and S.M.A.R.T. allows you to check on the drives status and health.

The PCB of the Seagate Enterprise NAS 6TB HDDs is well protected and the HDD controller and motor controller both feature heat transfer pads to help them stay cool in hot environments. The 128MB cache on the HDD is provided by an SK Hynix chip.

Features:

  • Enterprise-class reliability and performance for cloud-based storage and NAS applications in 1- to 16-bay enclosures
  • 1.2 million hours MTBF for enterprise-class reliability
  • 300TB-per-year workload rating for mid-range NAS and cloud-based storage
  • Backed by the Seagate 5-Year Limited Warranty
  • 7200-RPM spindle speed performance
  • Double the cache size, 256MB multisegmented on 8TB capacity, 128MB on the other sizes
  • Dual-stage actuators to deliver precision seeks every time
  • SATA 6Gb/s interface for easy integration into NAS and RAID rackmount systems
  • RV sensor for sustained performance and reliability
  • Optional 5-year Rescue Data Recovery Service plan protects against data loss in NAS and RAID environments.

Specifications

The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers homepage at the time of the review and might as such be subject to possible future changes.

Seagate Releases Largest Consumer NAS HDD Yet

Even with SSDs driving the news cycle more and more, HDDs are still around and kicking. One of two major HDD firms Seagate has just launched their highest capacity NAS HDD with a whopping 8TB of storage space. The drive is oriented towards NAS users with NAS-specific features and RAID and comes with a 3-year warranty.

With 8TB of capacity, the new drive will be perfect for the home NAS in creating a personal cloud or simply for mass multimedia storage. Another major market is the burgeoning SOHO segment as more and more people start running small business’s and working from home.

The drive operates at the standard 7200rpm without resorting any exotic methods like helium fill. Using standard PMR (parallel magnetic recording), it packs 1.33TB per platter with a total of 6 platters. This backed up by 256MB of DRAM cache and connected over an SATA 3 interface, not the SAS commonly used by enterprise. Peak transfer rate should be about 216MB/s though that is a best case scenario unlikely to be encountered in real life. The rest of the lineup includes 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB and 6TB drives for those that don’t need such a massive drive. the only problem for such a large drive is backing up and restoring in case of drive failure.

ADATA HD720 Durable 1TB External Hard Drive Review

Introduction


People with an active lifestyle deserve to carry their storage around with them just as well as clumsy people do, but they should pick their portable storage with care and make sure that it can withstand the treatment it will get. Today I’m taking a closer look at just such a storage drive as I’m having ADATA’s HD720 ultra durable external hard drive with a sporty design on and off the test bench.

The ADATA HD720 is available in three capacity versions, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. Today I’m taking a closer look at the 1TB model and will test both its performance on my benchmark system as well as its durability with some clumsy but calculated actions. The HD720 is dustproof, waterproof, and shock resistant for an excellent data protection even when the worst case scenario should happen.

The drive has passed the stringent IP68 test thanks to its durable design. The HD720 even works normally in dusty environments as well as after being submerged in up to 2-meter deep water for up to 2 hours. The HD720 also passed the standard military-grade requirement (MIL-STD-810G 516.6) and even went beyond that and passed the 1.8m drop test.

This is all thanks to the rugged enclosure that the drive is built into. Deep inside the HD720 is a 2.5-inch sized HDD that first of all is cushioned mounted on its own. Next it is covered by a plastic shock structure followed by a special silicon layer that in combination provide the drive with its resilience. The HD720 also features a G-Shock sensor that flashes red when the drive should register a severe shock. When the shock has passed, a solid or flashing blue light displays indicating normal operation has resumed.

A portable drive also needs to be convenient. Thanks to the use of a 2.5-inch HDD you don’t need any extra power supply, the drive can draw enough power directly from the USB connection. The included cable can’t be static attached either or the drive would lose some of its durability. ADATA made a wrap around design on the HD720, allowing you to tug the drive into the groves on the edge of the drive – that at the same time give the drive an even better protection from a side impact.

There are three color choices on the HD720, either blue and black, green and black or completely black. ADATA backs this 211gram light drive with a 3-year warranty.

Feature Highlights:

  • Up to 2TB capacity
  • Dust, Water, and Shock-proof
  • USB 3.0 connection.
  • Cable wrap-around
  • Passed IP68 and MIL-STD-810G 516.6
  • G-Shock Sensor

Packaging

ADATA packed their durable HD720 in a white cardboard box that has a window to view the actual drive inside. The front highlights the capacity as well as safety features that it comes with.

The rear of the box has a little more information about the specifications in multiple languages as well as details on the waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof capabilities.

Inside the box is the drive wrapped with a USB 3 connection cable and a quick start guide should you need that.

Seagate CFO Claims HDDs to Remain Relevant for 15-20 more years

With each passing day, SSDs are growing in capacity and speed while their cost/GB continues to go down. Not surprisingly, HDD shipments have been falling steadily over the last few years as SSDs encroach their territory in storage. Despite the gloomy outlook, Seagate CFO thinks that HDDs will be here to stay, at least over the next 2 decades. Speaking at the Nasdaq 33rd Investor Program Conference David Morton said that:

“I believe HDDs will be along around for at least 15 years to 20 years”

While we would expect an HDD maker to express confidence in their product, HDDs will likely remain relevant for the near future. Despite the huge drops in price, SSDs still remain much pricier than their spinning disk cousins. Another major factor is that HDDs still continue to offer larger capacities in a single drive. With the introduction of HAMR and other technologies, HDDs will likely keep their lead at least till the end of the decade if not longer.

Even if SSDs do surpass HDDs in terms of capacity, hard drives may remain cheaper and thus more widely used for bulk storage. For those with large media collection and services that require immense amounts of storage, hard drives will likely remain cheaper for quite a while. With such an advantage, it seems highly likely that hard drives will be with us for quite a while yet.

Silicon Power Introduces the Complete Lineup of Apple Storage Solutions

Apple devices are highly popular, but they do in most cases come with one flaw and that is the upgradability. Luckily there are ways to increase this for the most part and Silicon Power has now introduced a new complete line of Apple storage devices for all sorts of different devices. With USB flash drives, expansion cards, portable hard drives and external SSD, the SP Apple Series is about to satisfy all kinds of memory expansion needs.

The need for extra storage on apple devices is great, especially considering the markups you pay for the models with more storage and the number one complaint from Apple users is “not enough storage available”.

Among the new products is the SP xDrive Z30 Lightning USB drive that features a dual-interface design with both USB 3.0 and Lightning for easy connection to iOS handsets as well as desktop systems. Not every device has a lightning connector and that is where the second new flash drive comes into play, the SP Mobile C80 dual USB drive that features a USB 3.0 and a Type-C USB connector.

The storage issue isn’t limited to portable iOS devices, Mac computers have the same issue. For this, SP introduced the xDrive Series expansion cards L12 and L13 as well as the rugged external Armor hard disk drives. The xDrivev expansion cards are tailored to fit seamless with the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models while the A65M and A85M external hard disks offer a shockproof and waterproof design for users on the go.

The final category is for those who need that extra speed and where every second counts. We’re naturally talking about external SSDs for Mac systems. SP’s Thunder T11 external SSD offers a two-channel Thunderbolt interface with a data transmission of up to 10GB/s throughput in each direction. Sadly that doesn’t result in the blazing fast speeds one could hope for with a rating of just 340MB/s reading and 280MB/s writing, but it should improve the latency and access times over the slower USB 3.0 interface.

SilverStone Releases DS222 External Dual-Bay RAID Enclosure

RAID setups are great for speed and redundancy and why should that be limited to your internal drives. SilverStone released a new external USB 3.0 chassis with built-in hardware RAID functionality and space for two 2.5-inch drives. The price and capacity gap between 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives have more or less been closed, making 2.5-inch drives a viable option at a highly reduced footprint as well as power consumption.

The new SilverStone DS222 external enclosure supports the use of the two drives as individual drives, BIG mode, RAID 0, and RAID 1 modes. It also comes with some useful features such as an alarm buzzer that can be turned off should you not want it and it also comes with a dedicated power button for the enclosure itself.

SilverStone’s DS222 should be able to get plenty of power for most drives with just the USB 3.0 connection, but SilverStone also added another micro USB port for 5V power supply, making it easily connectable to a system with plenty of power and without the use of an extra power adapter. That makes the setup a lot easier. The DS222 supports plug and play hot swapping and the entire chassis uses a tool-free design for extra convenience.

The new SilverStone DS222 will be available starting December the 18th for a suggested retail price of $62.48.

Seagate 6TB Enterprise NAS HDD Review

Introduction


When Thecus sent me the amazing N7770-10G NAS a little while ago, they also sent along five of Seagate’s Enterprise NAS 6TB hard disk drives. While they are intended for NAS usage as the drive name already suggests, they still deserve a review on their own.

Seagate’s Enterprise NAS drives come in capacities ranging from 1TB and all the way up to 8TB, but I only got the 6TB models in today. The Enterprise NAS series is designed for cloud-based systems and NAS application and support the use in systems with up to 16 drive bays, double that of the consumer NAS drives. It is very important to use a drive suited for your area of operation and not just pick any random cheap drive from the shelve. A farmer wouldn’t use an SUV to plow his fields either, it’s just not built for the task. So forget all about misleading Backblaze reports, the figures, features, and warranties speak for themselves here.

The 6TB Seagate Enterprise NAS HDD comes with 128MB cache and a spindle speed of 7200RPM. This is also quite a bit more than the variable speeded drives that have a maximum speed of 5400RPM. This makes the drives a little louder, but the Enterprise NAS HDD is surprisingly silent compared to other 7200RPM drives and only generates 2.5 bels during idle and 2.7 bels maximum during seek operations.

The average seek times are set to 8.5ms reading and 9.5ms writing. The performance is rated with up to 216MB/s sustained data rate and an average read/write rate of 154MB/s. You can run the drive in harsher environments as the Enterprise NAS HDD will work from zero to 70 degrees and can withstand up to 70Gs shocks at 2ms read and 40Gs at 2ms write. This 6TB version is built with 12 heads total for the 6 1TB disks it houses.

The Enterprise NAS drives have a long endurance and great workload ratings. The endurance is rated for 300TB a year and they have a 1.2 million hour mean time before failure rating. Seagate is also backing these drives with a 5-Year warranty and also offers optional 5-Year Rescue Data Recovery options.

The available Rescue Data Recovery Service options can save the day when the worst case scenario happens. It is an extra feature that you might want to consider when dealing with your important data. Any company is more or less lost when they lose their digital data. Seagate Recovery Services (SRS) can save the day in the following situations: RAID controller failure, Lost RAID configuration, accidental reconfiguration, accidental re-initialization of the RAID array, power surges that cause multiple drive failures simultaneously, missing RAID partitions, reformatted RAID partitions, virus damage, natural disaster, human error and drive failures. Most data can be recovered in-lab with a nearly 90% success rate.

The drives are built on customer proven technologies coupled with the newest density platters that allow for lower power consumptions, smaller overall footprint, and lower total cost of ownership over previous drive generations. The RV sensors provide strong reliable performance and the controller is flashed with NAS-optimized firmware for balanced reads and writes.

The drives naturally support ATA8 streaming commands, NCQ, and are performance tuned for RAID applications. On-the-fly ECC algorithms make sure that the data arrives as it should and S.M.A.R.T. allows you to check on the drives status and health.

The PCB of the Seagate Enterprise NAS 6TB HDDs is well protected and the HDD controller and motor controller both feature heat transfer pads to help them stay cool in hot environments. The 128MB cache on the HDD is provided by an SK Hynix chip.

Features:

  • Enterprise-class reliability and performance for cloud-based storage and NAS applications in 1- to 16-bay enclosures
  • 1.2 million hours MTBF for enterprise-class reliability
  • 300TB-per-year workload rating for mid-range NAS and cloud-based storage
  • Backed by the Seagate 5-Year Limited Warranty
  • 7200-RPM spindle speed performance
  • Double the cache size, 256MB multisegmented on 8TB capacity, 128MB on the other sizes
  • Dual-stage actuators to deliver precision seeks every time
  • SATA 6Gb/s interface for easy integration into NAS and RAID rackmount systems
  • RV sensor for sustained performance and reliability
  • Optional 5-year Rescue Data Recovery Service plan protects against data loss in NAS and RAID environments.

Specifications

The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers homepage at the time of the review and might as such be subject to possible future changes.

SSDs Could Approach Cost Parity With HDDs by 2017

While the cost of solid state drives (SSDs) has been falling incrementally for the last three years, it still costs 18 cents per gigabyte more to buy an SSD than a hard disk drive (HDD). However, if price continue to plummet at the present rate then that difference could drop to a difference of 11 cents per gigabyte by 2017, according to the DRAMeXchange. While SSDs are unlikely to ever be cheaper than HDDs, the differential could become negligible.

Alan Chen, Senior Manager of DRAMeXchange, has presented figures that predict that 2.5-inch SSDs will cost 17 cents per gigabyte – compared to HHDs’ 6 cents per gigabyte – by 2017, and that SSD adoption rates in laptops and notebooks should represent 42% of the market during the same year.

“Branded PC vendors and channel distributors are holding back on their SSD purchases due to lower-than-expected notebook sales,” Chen told Computer World. “However, 256GB SSDs will be moving close to price parity with mainstream HDDs in 2016, so the adoption of SSDs in the business notebook segment will rise.”

Though SSD prices have consistently dropped over recent years, HHD prices have remained rather consistent, dropping only 3 cents per gigabyte from 2012 to 2015.

HGST’s Helium-Filled Ultrastar He10 10TB HDD Now Shipping

The world’s first 10TB perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) hard disk drive is now officially shipping and it is naturally HGST’s helium-filled Ultrastar He10. This is the third generation helium drives out of the Western Digital Corporation and it offers an impressive 25% increase in capacity over the previous generation.

Customers can enjoy an overall decreased total costs of ownership thanks to the increase in capacity. The new 10TB HGST Ultrastar He10 uses 56% fewer watts per TB capacity compared to traditional air-filled HDDs. WDC expects its 10TB drives to be a key enabler of video, photo, business and other cloud-based applications, and that it will be a cornerstone for public and private cloud deployments.

The Ultrastar He10 isn’t just the first 10TB PMR drive to hit the market, it also comes with the highest reliability rating and features an impressive 2.5 million hours before meantime failure rating. The drives are also backed by 5-year limited warranty.

There are both 6Gbps and 12Gbps SATA and SAS versions as well as Instant Secure Erase (ISE) and Self-Encrypting Drive (SED) options. The drive further features a 256MB data buffer and a 7200 RPM rotation speed. The average access latency is 4.16ms and the 10TB Ultrastar He10 is rated for a sustained transfer rate of 249MB/s with seek times of 8ms. With a power consumption of just 6.8W during operating and 5W when idle, you get an effective power consumption of just 0.50W per TB storage. Impressive.

WD Purple 6TB Surveillance Hard Drive RAID Review

Introduction


We have already had the pleasure to see how WD’s 6TB Purple surveillance hard disk performed in our previous review, but WD was kind enough to provide us with two of these drives and thereby allowing us to test them in a RAID environment too. A surveillance setup will rarely consist of just one hard drive, making this review one to take a closer look at before investing in your future surveillance storage.

With two drives at our disposal, we can run them as in RAID 1 and RAID 0 setups, depending on whether we want speed and storage or redundancy. There isn’t one setup that is better than another, it comes down to what you need in your setup. Most people will probably get more drives and opt for a RAID 5, RAID 6, or RAID 10 setup, but those are out of our reach when working with just two drives.

Whether you want to protect your personal assets and loved ones or monitor the business you worked hard to build, you’ll want surveillance-class storage to rely on. Not only are these drives built for 24/7 usage in environments with up to 8 disks, they also come with enhanced firmware built just for this kind of operation. When it comes to surveillance, every frame counts, and every frame has to be perfect. This is especially noticeable when many cameras are using the drives simultaneously. WD’s Purple series has no trouble here and it is designed to work in setups with up to 32 HD cameras.

The WD Purple 6TB surveillance drive features 64MB cache and uses the well-known WD IntelliPower system for the spindle speed. It is rated for a sustained transfer speed of up to 175MB/s and comes with a power draw of 5.3W in operation, 4.9W when idle, and 0.4W in standby or sleep mode. The noise level is rated to 45 dBA idle and 26 dBA seeking, so they’re barely audible. With a weight of 750 grams, the WD Purple 6TB isn’t the lightest drive, but that’s no surprise considering the capacity.

Western Digital also designed the Purple series to work in high-temperature environments. The temperature rating of the drive, on the base casting, ranges from zero to 65 degrees Celcius when operating and -40 to 70 when non-operating. The Purple series has a mean time before failure of 1 million hours and can withstand 300,000 load/unload cycles. On top of that you also get a two-year limited warranty.

One of the things that make the WD Purple series so great is the exclusive AllFrame technology that works with ATA streaming to reduce error pixelation and video interruptions that easily occur when desktop drives are incorrectly used in security systems. Missed frames and lost footage is a serious problem when an event occurs and surveillance footage needs to be retrieved. WD Purple with AllFrame provides the confidence you should expect when it’s time to play back and review critical surveillance footage.

AllFrame Features:

  • Reduces video frame loss with surveillance-class storage.
  • Specifically tuned for surveillance security systems.
  • Caching algorithms are tuned for write-intensive, low bit rate, high stream count applications that are typical of surveillance applications.
  • Priority change for write allocations and preemptive caching policies.
  • TLER & ATA streaming support.
  • Supports up to eight drives.

Specifications

The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers homepage at the time of the review and might as such be subject to possible future changes.

Western Digital Just Bought SanDisk

Western Digital is one of the leading factors in traditional storage, both for consumers and enterprises alike, but a lot of the future will be in solid state drives and they naturally don’t want to be left out of that race. Western Digital isn’t entirely new to the solid state area and they already have products that utilize NAND. That position should be strengthened even more now that they have acquired SanDisk. The purchase is composed of both cash and stock.

“The offer values SanDisk common stock at $86.50 per share or a total equity value of approximately $19 billion, using a five-day volume weighted average price ending on October 20, 2015 of $79.60 per share of Western Digital common stock. If the previously announced investment in Western Digital by Unisplendour Corporation Limited closes prior to this acquisition, Western Digital will pay $85.10 per share in cash and 0.0176 shares of Western Digital common stock per share of SanDisk common stock; and if the Unisplendour transaction has not closed or has been terminated, $67.50 in cash and 0.2387 shares of Western Digital common stock per share of SanDisk common stock. The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies.”

At around 19 billion, this is certainly no small deal. Western Digital will gain a company with 27-years of experience in some of the best and most impressive NAND products and create a stable future for the company where they can compete on all fronts, including the NVMe based drives that we’d all like to have these days. With 15 thousand combined patents between them, they also have a strong foundry against the fierce competition in the storage market.

The transaction is still subject to approval by SanDisk shareholders, but both boards of directors in the two companies have agreed. The deal is expected to get finalized in the third quarter of 2016.

Thecus Adds Seagate 8TB Enterprise HDDs to Official Compatibility List

Thecus announced the addition of Seagate’s impressive 8TB Enterprise 3.5-inch hard disk drives to its official compatibility list. By incorporating Seagate’s 8TB HDD, Thecus NAS users will be able to maximize storage capacity while experiencing enhanced performance and reliability.

Hard drives aren’t just hard drives and there is a lot of difference in them and it’s quite important to pick one that is suited for your task, especially when your dealing with mission critical data. The Seagate 8TB Enterprise HDDs boast the industry’s best response times and are on their own over 100% faster than their own previous generation. These drives are naturally designed to support 24/7 performance and can stand up to a workload of 550TB per year. Other advanced technologies including PowerBalance, PowerChoice, and Raid Rebuilt enables users to customize their big data requirements and optimize TCO.

“Providing compatibility to new, cutting-edge technologies is essential to Thecus and allows users to utilize the best the industry has to offer with their Thecus NAS,” said Florence Shih, CEO at Thecus Technology Corp. “Pairing the 8TB Seagate Enterprise 3.5 Hard Drives with Thecus NAS empower organizations using big data with a reliable, high-capacity storage solution.”

The drives are available as both SAS 12Gbps, SAS 6Gbps, and SATA 6Gbps versions, allowing you to make the right choice depending on what Thecus NAS you might be running. You can check out the full compatibility list for your Thecus model on the official website.

Chinese Firm takes up 15% Stake in Western Digital

In a move that is sure to surprise some, Unisplendour Corporation Limited (Unis), a Chinese firm, is taking up a 15% stake in Western Digital. With an investment of $3.775 billion, Unis will be the largest single shareholder, though the shares come with a 30% premium and do not give it any control over the second largest HDD manufacturer.

In exchange for their 15% stake, Unis does get to appoint a member to the board of directors for WD. Given that Unis is controlled by the Chinese government and WD does have sensitive matter it has to deal with at times, the Unis board member will not participate in those discussions. Unis will also not get access to any WD IP. Interestingly, Unis is closely tied to Tsinghua Holdings, an investment firm that has made some moves to acquire the NAND and memory manufacturer Micron.

Given the close ties Unis has with the Chinese government, the HGST-WD merger which has been held up by Chinese regulator MOFCOM should now get approval. Western Digital has been attempting to diversify their business away from pure HDDs with inroads made in hybrid disks and enterprise SSDs. With $3.775 billion extra, WD can go around acquiring all the technology and IP they need to remain relevant in the post-HDD world.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information