On Monday, we posted our in-depth look at Seagate’s latest “SSHD”, one that earned its “Thin” moniker by being built around a 7mm-thick form-factor. Naturally, our friends at WD would send us a press release the very next daytouting its latest products built around a 5mm-thick form-factor – a world first. Competition sure can be funny sometimes.
There’s more of interest to this launch than the “5mm” marking, however. This launch also marks the first time WD has released a hybrid drive – and yes, the company calls it “SSHD” much like Seagate. With Seagate’s launch, we thought SSHD was its term, but apparently that’s not the case. Broken down, it stands for “Solid-State Hard Drive”, so it seems like a reasonable acronym to us.
That said, the fact that WD has produced a 5mm drive shouldn’t be downplayed. While 7mm > 5mm seems like a small reduction, it’s a staggering 28.5% thinner – that’s impressive.
For those uninterested in an SSHD (why, might we ask?), WD also offers what I like to call a “normie” option (shout out to Peter Griffin). Those models fall into the WD Blue line, although at this point in time it seems the lone option is 500GB. That applies to the WD Black, as well, which feature the models with built-in NAND flash. Interestingly, WD is shipping the Black “with both WD proprietary hybrid technology and industry standard SATA I/O technology” to system integrators. What’s the difference between the two? We’d love to know. Let’s not ignore the fact though that the Black won’t be available to end-consumers (yet), while the Blue will be (priced at $89.99). We can be sure that the current market for 5mm-thick drives is small, but it’s an interesting decision nonetheless.
Here’s a quick summary of WD’s latest drives:
Ultra-slim Form Factor – 5 mm height with compact connector offers system designers a greater degree of chassis design freedom. This ultra-slim form factor reduces weight by up to 36 percent compared with a standard 9.5 mm drive.
Best-in-class Acoustics and Shock – WD’s best-in-class acoustics use technologies that reduce noise when the drive is active or idle. The WD Blue and WD Black 5 mm drives deliver unprecedented operation and non-operation shock specifications with 400 G and 1000G, respectively.
Edge Card Technology – WD designed the connector and board utilizing cell phone miniaturization technology to maximize the mechanical sway space in the hard drive and ensure shock performance.
Edge Card Connector – WD Blue 5 mm hard drives also feature the first application of a new small form factor SFF-8784 edge connector. This new connector receives power from and interfaces with the host I/O bus via the SATA interface connector SFF-8784.
StableTrac™ – The motor shaft is secured at both ends to reduce system-induced vibration and stabilize platters for accurate tracking during read and write operations which enables consistently higher performance.
Dual Stage Actuator – Leading-edge enterprise dual stage actuators provide two actuators that improve positional accuracy over the data track(s). The primary actuator provides coarse displacement using conventional electromagnetic actuator principles. The secondary actuator uses piezoelectric motion to fine tune the head positioning to a higher degree of accuracy.
WD notes that both drives are shipping, so you can likely expect to see the Blue hit etailers within the next two weeks.