Consumer and gaming tech highlights news at Western Digital Flash event, but nuggets still there for partners

Some major gaming announcements will have implications for resellers and integrators who work that market, as will a new embedded flash platform for Universal Flash Storage  3.1, while a partnership with Percona around their MySQL Server will be of interest in the enterprise.

Rob Soderbery, EVP & GM Flash Business Unit, Western Digital

On Wednesday, Western Digital held its Flash Perspective Event, highlighting new announcements across the company’s flash business. The highlights of the event were more on the consumer side. It saw the announcement of three SSD solutions to their WD_BLACK gaming portfolio, which has a channel component, but is more e-tail and retail, as well as the creation of a new SanDisk Professional brand of premium storage solutions for content creators and professionals, within their SanDisk consumer business. However, WD also made some enterprise announcements. They announced a new embedded flash platform for Universal Flash Storage  3.1, that will enable new applications in mobile, automotive, IoT, AR/VR, drones and other emerging segments. They also announced a new partnership with open source database software and services provider Percona around Western Digital’s Ultrastar DC ZN540 NVMe ZNS SSDs for MySQL Server.

“We believe Western Digital has the big picture view of storage and technology,” said Rob Soderbery, EVP and GM of the company’s Flash Business, who joined the company last September to take over the business unit. “Over 40% of the world’s data is stored on Western Digital products. We are also the only company with both an HDD business and a flash business – two strong growth markets in one company.”

Soderbery emphasized that Western Digital serves four major market segments –  content solutions, data centre and cloud; embedded and automotive; and client computing. Each of the four areas got a news announcement.

The WD_BLACK gaming portfolio announcements, within client computing, will be of interest to channel partners who work the higher margin gaming market. The new WD_BLACK SN750 SE NVMe SSD is for enthusiast gamers on PCs or laptops. It is a DRAM-less internal storage solution which leverages PCIe Gen4 technology.

“These SSD drives with DRAMless architecture are wonderful for the marketplace because DRAM is power hungry, space hungry and expensive,” Soderbery said. “The market is now shifting to DRAMless in mainstream segments as other vendors are following.”

The WD_BLACK SN750 SE NVMe SSD comes in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB capacities starting at $USD 54.99 in the U.S. It will be available at select Western Digital retailers, e-tailers, resellers and system integrators in Summer 2021.

The WD_BLACK D30 Game Drive SSD is for console gamers, and features read speeds up to 900 MB/s, and expanded storage for up to 50 games with capacities up to 2TB. It comes in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities starting at $USD 89.99, and is available now.

The third new SSD is the WD_BLACK D30 Game Drive SSD for Xbox. It comes in  500GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities starting at $USD 99.99, can be pre-ordered now, and will be available in June.

In the content solutions segment, Western Digital extended its SanDisk consumer brand with a new brand, SanDisk Professional, a premium brand targeted at content creators and professionals.

“With SanDisk Pro, we are starting to think hard about content workflow, and how to make content creators lives easier,” Soderbery stated.

The new SanDisk Professional line features 16 modular workflow solutions with professional-grade performance and enterprise-class reliability. These are scheduled to roll out over the next few months. They will include the PRO-CINEMA CFexpress VPG400, a professional-grade, rugged CFexpress card for videographers and cinematographers who do video recordings at a minimum of 400MB/s. There are also four new PRO-READER devices that feature a USB-CTM interface that supports SuperSpeed USB 10Gbs designed to work with the latest and most common camera media.

Other workflow solutions on the way include PRO-DOCK 4, a new 4-bay reader docking station that can bridge capture and ingest with a truly scalable offloading solution, and a new 4TB G-DRIVE ArmorLock Encrypted NVMe SSD, new G-DRIVE ultra-rugged portable drives, desktop devices featuring enterprise-grade Ultrastar drives, and G-RAID and G-RAID SHUTTLE transportable, enterprise-grade RAID solutions.

The Automotive, Mobile and Embedded segment gets a new Universal Flash Storage 3.1 platform to enable new applications in mobile, automotive, IoT, AR/VR, and drones.

“This brand new UFS 3.1 platform will unleash new capabilities of scale and performance, and allow us to develop unique capabilities for each of those platforms,” Soderbery said.

The first products for this platform are scheduled for the second half of 2021, and will be mobile and consumer applications, Western Digital is working with its hardware ecosystem partners to enable it on their upcoming solutions.

Finally, Western Digital announced its partnership with Percona to extend the Western Digital’s Zoned Storage ecosystem. Through this collaboration, MySQL users will be able to install the Percona Server for MySQL and get out-of-the-box support for Western Digital Zoned Namespaces SSD.

“We have taken our Zoned Namespace Drive  and optimized the software stack to enable MYSQL databases to take advantage of performance for up to 3x higher transactions per second, making cloud services more responsive,” Soderbery stated.

The Percona Server for MySQL with Western Digital Zoned Namespace Drive SSDs will be available in the second half of 2021.