Final Words

I've repeated it enough times that you should get the point by now - Western Digital's SiliconEdge Blue is just a bit behind the performance of an Indilinx based SSD. The drive performed relatively well in our tests. TRIM worked as expected under Windows 7. Compared to a standard hard drive it's great, but so are just about all other SSDs. Given that the Blue isn't the fastest SSD in the world, what this really boils down to is price.

At $529 for 128GB, the SiliconEdge Blue just isn't worth it. To be honest, the Blue needs to be priced similarly to Kingston's SSDNow V Series to even make sense. It has to be cheaper than both Intel and Indilinx drives, which means cutting the MSRP in half. Not to mention that I received and tested a 256GB version of the drive priced at $999. It remains to be seen how the 128GB drive performs as that one will most likely be the sweet spot of price/capacity/performance.

Western Digital has been testing the SiliconEdge Blue since October. The firmware I tested was cleared for release as of about a week and a half ago. The compatibility angle makes sense, it's only a question of whether or not the drive will deliver on it. If Western Digital can produce an SSD that just works without any fear of not working, dying or strange performance anomalies going forward, it'll help make users more comfortable with the idea of buying an SSD. That being said, the price still needs to be a lot lower.

The bigger picture is unclear at this point. Like Seagate, Western Digital hasn't invested in its own controller design - just in firmware, and to what extent we have no idea. WD did hint at the possibility of there being some overlap in firmware development with the HDD teams in the future. The SiliconEdge Blue may end up being a device to test the waters with a competitive, more heavily engineered solution coming out later on.

It just strikes me as odd for hard drive manufacturers with decades of experience in firmware development and data access patterns, to not come out of the gates swinging. Hopefully it's just these companies being cautious when entering a new, highly disruptive market.

AnandTech Storage Bench
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  • Frallan - Friday, March 5, 2010 - link

    Performance isn't average its abyssimal. It can only compete with the other brands low-performance offers and is priced hicher then the High performance offers.

    I don't understand why WD turned up at the party at all - this deflates the good will that they still have.

    /F
    Reply
  • capeconsultant - Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - link

    Bigfoot? Nope. Smallfoot :) Reply
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - link

    Anand,

    You're really pumping out the articles lately, you must be swamped!

    I just wanted to comment on your closing remarks: "It just strikes me as odd for hard drive manufacturers with decades of experience in firmware development and data access patterns, to not come out of the gates swinging."

    I'm sure you realize that the two technologies are almost completely different. Sure they have common components and similar storage logistics, but WD made it's way on the quality of the physical aspect and head speeds of hard disks.

    The comparison is almost the same as how floppy disks have been phased out by thumb drives, or film cameras being replaced with digital cameras. We didn't see those companies that excelled in the in the first generation of their technology come out swinging, did we? Verbatim and Kodak are still struggling.

    What's more surprising is not seeing a company with a big wallet to come out aiming for the fences. That's what I'd like to see, just like Intel.

    Cheers for another good article,
    vol7ron
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Thursday, March 4, 2010 - link

    Unfortunately you must have missed the FIRST sentence of the article. They purchased a large company that had a great deal of experience in the SSD arena.

    That kind of makes your comment moot.
    Reply
  • The0ne - Monday, March 8, 2010 - link

    IF everything stayed the same than yes the point would be moot but sadly when acquisition happens changes are always in effect and mostly for the bad reasons. You can acquire the best SSD house in the world and bring it into your team with little experience in it and have them run it. Give it a few days and that "best" becomes WTF, guarantee. Reply
  • vol7ron - Friday, March 5, 2010 - link

    Haha, you do go me there. :)

    Except, SiliconSystems is really a mock company and I use that term loosely. Even if you say they focused on CF, although it is more similar to SSD NAND, as a storage product it is still significantly different. I would say, though, that the combination of WDs current storage management, combined with some experience with the NAND controllers should have put out something better than this WD SSD.

    Still, WD acquired Silicon Systems in March of last year and (even then) I thought SS was an inexperienced company. They put out Enterprise/OEM products, that didn't really deal with speed, but more with reliability; more specifically, being able to recover from unforeseen power downs, data errors, etc. While that is very important, SSDs are supposed to provide speed and that's not something SS is known for.

    So, yes, I still stand by my statement. Still different technologies and a hard transition.

    vol7ron
    Reply
  • Soltis - Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - link

    lol... these drives are on the lower end of the performance spectrum and the higher end of the price spectrum..

    But who knows? maybe with this new "reliability" WD drives will now survive the trip to your house! ~zing
    Reply
  • CTT - Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - link

    A comprehensive/insightful article, as always. I would have a couple of remarks about the graphs though: the low values are printed over the drive names and the the WD drive is listed as JM618.

    I see the TRIM support is given the due attention, but there are quiet a few users that don't benefit from it (e.g. using Windows XP, TrueCrypt). Would it be too much trouble to ask for some tests with drive full/some percent free and TRIM disabled?

    Did the WD experienced any significant (read abysmal) drop in write performance after some use (such as HD Tune Pro benchmarks at Legit Reviews and StorageReview)?
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - link

    I've been trying to figure out the best way to test performance in non-TRIM aware OSes. I'm playing around with some things and will eventually present my findings :)

    My drive didn't show any significant drop in write performance after use. That appears to be an issue with the HD Tune benchmark itself.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Iketh - Saturday, March 6, 2010 - link

    Yes it's an issue with HD Tune. It sometimes reports my mechincal drives as reading 1/3 of what they normally do. Reply

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