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  • jjj - Thursday, May 09, 2013 - link

    You are way way off in thinking Sandisk would make a SSD with WD. Sandisk is pushing hard in SSD and their revenue is quite significant,they hired some new execs too in the last year and at least one of their consumer SSD is quite interesting (you guys should do a review maybe). Sandisk is also a strong consumer brand and with a very wide distribution channel ,they absolutely don't need any help from WD .They are also shipping SSDs to most major notebook OEMs already.They are strong is SAS but not limiting themselvs to just that. They should have PCI drives this year too.
    If anything maybe WD should try to buy Sandisk and become the king of storage. Would not be easy since both companies have about the same market cap so it would be quite a bold move.
    The HDD market might get in real trouble towards the end of the decade. 3D NAND is about to hit the market and there is a chance that in a few gens it could pretty much oust HDDs from the notebook market. 2D NAND can;'t do that but 3D just might. It seems that Samsung will start some kind of production in 2014 while Micron and Sandisk are likely starting in 2015-2016.After than a bit of time will be needed before 3D NAND gets into SSDs, They'll first use it in simpler devices like thumb drives and SD cards and the tech will need some time to mature before maybe prices will be low enough to offer enough storage for most in laptops.And then there is 3D ReRAM, hopefully arriving this decade but it seems too early to understand the impact it will have.
  • Wall Street - Thursday, May 09, 2013 - link

    You are way off...

    They announced the partnership in a press release, this wasn't speculation.
  • jjj - Thursday, May 09, 2013 - link

    How about you pay attention, i was talking about the author speculating that Sandisk and WD would make a SSD together. Reply
  • Gigaplex - Thursday, May 09, 2013 - link

    That partnership is for the SSHD, not a standalone SSD, as Sandisk is quite capable of doing that on their own. Reply
  • designerfx - Sunday, May 12, 2013 - link

    yep, as in the only part that isn't in that high demand.

    Cache may be able to make up for a large part of access delay, but once a drive spins up it's still so much slower than an SSD that the only reason I want for physical disks is for the cheap WD reds. Anything else I can't see why anyone would want to suggest a hybrid when they keep making the same obvious mistake: trying to peg it as more performance focused and intentionally keeping the platters really small.

    If SSHD was 4TB *today*? then we'd be onto something.

    a SSHD, even if it's significantly faster than the last generation, is simply a lower quality/poorer performing SSD.
  • BernardV - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    Really dislike Sandisk products. WD should really not be involved with them beyond this project. I also think you work for Sandisk ;) Reply
  • jabber - Sunday, May 12, 2013 - link

    I have bought several Sandisk SSD's of different marks and they have all been excellent in performance and value. In fact they are my go to SSD make for general use.

    However, I have a few of their standard USB sticks and they are woeful! Oh 2MBps transfer speed...fantastic!
  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    We have reviewed the Ultra Plus, if that's what you meant (the Extreme is SandForce based so this is the only one that I would count as interesting):

    SanDisk is big in the enterprise side (they already have PCIe SSDs too, check out the Lightning) but I find that their consumer products are a bit "meh". The Extreme is just another SandForce based drive. The Ultra Plus is decent but its performance is lacking compared to other offerings on the market (it's not slow by any means but marketing is all about big numbers). The U100 (sold as "SanDisk SSD") is just horrible and I don't understand why it even exists anymore.

    The problem is, WD needs something of its own if they want their second try in the SSD market to be longer than the first. It's too late for WD to jump on the SandForce bandwagon because they don't have any advantage compared to every other fab-less SandForce OEM. SanDisk can survive in the market without WD, that's for sure, but they likely don't want to invest on a consumer-grade controller on their own since you need a high volume to make the investment profitable (and hence there's high risk involved). There is much less risk involved if you team up and share the R&D costs. Sure, you will lose exclusivity, but volumes will be higher and that results in lower unit production costs.

    My point is, WD needs a partner for their SSDs. Out of the NAND fabricators, SanDisk is definitely the best fit as they also have controller IP but their consumer products could use an uplift. This could just be a meaningless press release which basically says "hey we are buying iSSDs from SanDisk" but I'm pretty confident that there is more to this partnership. But this is speculation of course; there is no right and wrong (yet), only different views.

    As for 3D NAND, we don't know enough about it to really speculate its impact. The R&D costs behind it are enormous and it will also require different manufacturing equipment, so it won't be cheap at first. If analysts are to believe, hard drive shipments will remain rather steady and the market isn't dying:
  • futrtrubl - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    I have to disagree about one thing here. You talk about higher volumes, but they are already working at capacity. Increase volumes, aka demand since supply is already maxed, in the consumer market brings nothing for them when they can use all of their capacity on higher margin enterprise parts. I think most SDD manufacturers would ditch the consumer market completely if it wasn't that it's a good place to dump parts that don't make the grade and that they are trying to keep mindshare for when capacity again exceeds enterprise demand. Reply
  • Wall Street - Thursday, May 09, 2013 - link

    I think the article writer should try a 32 GB cache drive before he writes it off. I'm using a Sandisk ReadyCache and the speedup is phenomenal. I was fooling around with the partitions and the cache reset and the slowdown was immediately noticeable. I think that 32 GB seems to be enough to speed up Windows, Photoshop, Chrome, Office and 1-2 games. I am guessing it is one of those 90/10 rules where 10% of the data is accessed 90% of the time.

    I know that the lack of dies also limits performance, but going from no SSD to SSD seems to get 90% of the boost that is achieveable. Even really fast SSDs only shave a few more seconds off Windows boot time, it isn't like doubling SSD speeds can halve boot times again like going from HDD to SSD can.
  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    The difference is, SanDisk ReadyCache is a standard 2.5" SSD and not a BGA package. The iSSD has much stricter space and power limitations, which also have a significant impact on performance (9K/1K random read/write is not exactly impressive and the 32GB SKU will be even worse).

    Maybe I'm just a pessimist. I was very excited when the first MomentusXT came but I ended up being quite disappointed, which might have lowered my expectations when it comes to hybrid drives. The iSSD is something that could be hyped as "the first real SSD+HD combo!!!" but when you look at the facts, it's still not going to be a real SSD (even if all your data was cached). I hope I'll be positively surprised, though.
  • name99 - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    There were multiple problems with MomentusXT.
    One was the cache size was just too small. A second was that writes weren't cached.
    32GB is a lot closer to a reasonably useful size. IF that is coupled with write caching, we may have something that works well. The write-caching is very important, in my experience with home-constructed hybrid disks. It's not that you want writes to be fast, it's that writes force the head to bounce around between the data you are reading and flushing out various bits of random stuff.
    If you can cache the bulk of metadata in the SSD for reading, and likewise can have the myriad misc small writes happen to the SSD, then your head basically sits in one place tracking the "main" file that you care about.

    Personally I wouldn't worry much about the performance details of the SSD --- this is a device that's supposed to act like a very fast HD, not like a mid-range SSD.

    What I would worry about iso
    (a) the quality of the caching algo
  • name99 - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    (oops) hit the wrong key.

    What I would worry about is
    (a) the quality of the caching algorithms (most obviously whether write caching occurs, but also how block usage is tracked, how blocks are replaced, how much free space is kept available for new writes, that sort of thing(
    (b) the peak power draw when lots of back-to-back writes occur, especially for what should be bus-powered USB devices. (Will they only work on USB3 and intermittently hang on USB with its lower power budget?)
  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    Write caching is supported, though like you said, it also brings a bunch of other issues (which is one of the reasons why it was better to go with SanDisk iSSD than standalone NAND). Reply
  • Wall Street - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    If it is anything like the ReadyCache which uses a Diskkeeper product for the Windows software, then the write cache will be in RAM which somewhat alleviates the performance issue of few NAND channels (writes suffer more from this than reads) and endurance. Reply
  • stickmansam - Thursday, May 09, 2013 - link

    32GB will make it very interesting if they get it into the standard 7-9 inch form factor with the regular connector. Combine that with 7.2k speeds (which Seagate dropped) and it'll be a very interesting solution for laptops with only 1 bay. Running a 64GB SSD to cache (SRT) my 2TB 7,2k on my desktop speeds up my OS + few fav games + chrome quite a bit. 32gb should do great for say a 500gb-1tb HDD. I echo the sentiment that WD is unlikely to enter the SSD market while Sandisk is doing fine by themselves. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    From the technical angle, 32GB will definitely make it to the 7mm form factor at least. It's 0.2mm thicker than 8GB and 16GB packages so if 8GB can be fit into 5mm, there is no reason why 32GB can be fit into 7mm. The real question is, will we see 32GB in 5mm FF? That's crucial for Ultrabooks as Intel requires at least 20GB of NAND (though Intel may also require that the SSD is managed by Smart Response Technology, which isn't possible with an SSHD). Reply
  • Romberry - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    I don't really think that the observations concerning that fact that integrating these kinds of SSD caches into mechanical hard drives won't make these hybrid drives as fast on an absolute level as pure SSD's is particularly relevant. Hybrid SSD/mechanical drives are about achieving massive storage at reasonable cost and bringing in a really significant performance improvement/advantage at an affordable price point. You can graft these SSD caches and controllers onto any size hard drive and not drive the price through the roof. Imagine terabyte+ drives with 32 or 64 gigs of SSD cache. Now imagine the potential improvement in write performance, and to a lesser degree (depending on file type, file size and prediction algorithms) read performance (up to the limits of the cache.) This is a middle ground strategy designed to give massive storage at a price we mere mortals can afford to pay, not a strategy to make mechanical drives into SSD's. I really disagree with the author's conclusions. This sort of strategy is exactly the answer to the current gap between high cost per gigabyte SSDs and lower performing by orders of magnitude but dirt cheap per gig purely mechanical hard drives. Reply
  • risa2000 - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    Your observation is sound and someone who runs two 2TB WD Green drives (solely as media drives) I can concur that I do not care much about performance for the these two drives. So technically any speed-up might be welcome?
    Not really. Do I take hybrid drive with likely higher power consumption and one additional piece of puzzle in processing chain which may fail? What would have to be price incentive, or speed-up incentive (about which I do not care much) to justify that? I do not know and I am not sure.

    But if WD simly sees this as en evolution of standard HD = no drives without iSSD will be produced anymore, then there is no dispute, I will buy this, or maybe some other brand which will provide classic technology.
  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    I edited the last paragraph a bit to clarify what I meant (you are right that this is exactly what will tighten the gap between SSHDs and SSDs). Reply
  • cjb110 - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    Pricing will pay a big part I think. As if WD can keep the black SSHD to a small premium then why wouldn't you get it? A proper SSD for main OS, but a 1Tb SSHD for games? Would be interesting to see how that compares to Intel's caching solution? I'd imaging a standalone SSD cache + normal HD is more expensive than a SSHD though. Reply
  • WeaselITB - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    This is the sort of comparison that I'd be interested in. If we're looking at desktop or desktop-like parts, then the comparison shouldn't be "SSD + HDD vs SSHD" it should be "SSD + HDD vs SSD + SSHD" -- espeically if the price gap on WD Black HDD to SSHD isn't that great.

  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    The WD Black SSHD will be 2.5" only from what I've heard. Reply
  • kwrzesien - Friday, May 10, 2013 - link

    Kristian: This wasn't clear to me until I got to your comment. Perhaps the last line of the first paragraph could read: "The new 2.5" WD Black that was first showcased at IDF last year"

    +1 for SSD + SSHD. No longer would I have to pick 1-2 games to move to the SSD, they would all be fine on the SSHD and automatically cached depending on which I play the most.
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, May 11, 2013 - link

    Edited it so it's clearer now. I guess I was expecting that the OEM-only and custom connector factors would hint towards it being 2.5". Reply
  • philipma1957 - Sunday, May 12, 2013 - link

    As a user of some large apple fusion setups. 1.96tb with the large crucial m5 ssd and 1.5tb with a samsung 830 512gb ssd.

    I can see a future in a 3.5 inch ssd/hdd combo. how about a 3tb western digital red combined with a 256gb ssd.

    IF reliable quite a good drive for boot/gamer pc or for any all in one desk top. The apple fusion tech has proven to run very well for myself and a few heavy user that I built fusion drives for. Would be nice to have a hard wired 1 piece unit in a thunderbolt case. Size and speed that could be moved from pc to pc.
  • Hrel - Monday, May 13, 2013 - link

    Pretty glad to see this, wish it had happened 2 years ago though. Yes, it is faster to have an SSD and hdd, but in laptops that's just not possible most of the time. Certainly not in anything that's actually portable. So if 240GB isn't enough for you then you either choose a hybrid or a hdd. Then there's the obvious expense of buying a 200 dollar SSD and a 100 dollar hdd just to store stuff. I think hybrid drives suit the market and the highest number of end users a lot better than pure SSD's. They're fast, but they're just too expensive. Even in the corporate environment I work in where employees are just now getting 240GB SSD's, they're already complaining about having to carry external hdd's with them everywhere since that's not nearly enough space.

    With that said what I'd really like to see is all laptops ship with (at a minimum) an open mSATA slot. Then you could at least use a 64GB/128GB mSATA SSD and a normal hdd; for those who are willing to spend that much money. Having options is never a bad thing.

    Assuming that happens, what I'd REALLY like to see next is hybrid style caching using said mSATA SSD supported on every laptop motherboard; so you can choose between pure SSD and SSD caching. Since money is the ultimate limiting factor (especially in a corporate environment) it should be expected that they aren't going to budget for a reasonably large SSD (128GB at a minimum) AND a reasonably large HDD (500GB at a minimum).
  • dcollins - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - link

    I hope this partnership eventually produces a higher end SSHD. I would be willing to plunk down a substantial chunk of cash for a 128GB + 2TB drive as an upgrade for my laptop. I love the speed of an SSD, but I hate having to even think about storage space. That would be the best of both worlds. Reply
  • bsd228 - Thursday, May 16, 2013 - link

    sshd = secure shell daemon. Reply
  • BoloMKXXVIII - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - link

    Sandisk is probably not the best partner for WD. Sandisk really doesn't need WD as much as WD needs Sandisk. Reply

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