CES 2017: Western Digital Announces WD Black M.2 NVMe PCI-E SSD

by MAC     |     January 5, 2017

Western Digital have just revealed their first non-SATA solid state drive, the WD Black PCIe SSD.

Back in May 2016, Western Digital completed its acquisition of flash memory manufacturer SanDisk, for which it paid a cool $19 billion dollars. The reason for that acquisition was because Western Digital wanted to enter the ever expanding solid state drive market. A brief five months later, the WD Blue and WD Green SSD series were released. These were fairly forgettable rebrands of previous Sandisk models, so they didn’t really shake up of the industry. Today, Western Digital have just announced the new high-performance WD Black series.

The WD Black designation has always been reserved for enthusiast parts, and this new model is indeed deserving of it since it is a full-fledged M.2 NVMe PCI-E 3.0 x4 SSD. Based on the popular M.2 2280 form factor, the WD Black will be offered in both 256GB and 512GB capacities. The read performance for both versions will be up to 2,050 MB/s, but the write speeds will vary from 800MB/s for the 512GB and 700MB/s for the 256GB. When it comes to IOPS, both versions clock in at 170,000 for 4 KB random read and in the low 130,000 range for 4KB random write.

Not word yet on which controller it uses, but it most certainly uses Sandisk 15nm TLC NAND, with a portion of the NAND in SLC mode to increase performance and improve reliability. Reliability and endurance are obviously key selling points when it comes to solid state drives, this model doesn’t disappoint. Western Digital claim a 1.75 million-hour Mean Time To Failure (MTTF), while endurance has been listed as 80TBW for the 256GB model and 160TBW for 512GB model. You can monitor the drive’s health with the downloadable WD SSD Dashboard utility, and if something does go wrong you are covered by a 5-year warranty.

By the way, that is a sticker on the drive, not actually a heatspreader. However, WD claim that their power management, thermal throttling, and error-correction algorithms will help prevent overheating, data corruption, and maintain high performance.

The 256GB version will retail for $110 USD, while the 512GB version will cost you $200. You can pre-order the WD Black now, and the anticipated ship date is February 14, 2017.

Full press release below:

Las Vegas, NV - January 4, 2017 - Western Digital Corporation ("Western Digital") (NASDAQ: WDC) today announced the availability of new WD Black® PCIe solid state drives (SSDs), the first WD-branded client PCIe SSDs. The new SSDs complement the recently announced WD Blue® and WD Green® SATA SSDs, as well as the company's industry leading family of hard drives for PCs and workstations, providing a full portfolio of WD storage devices for virtually any application.

The WD Black PCIe SSD is a performance PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe-based SSD that delivers more than three times the sequential read speeds of current SATA SSDs. The 256GB and 512GB capacities make it ideal as a boot drive when paired with a high-capacity hard drive, or as primary storage when building a future-ready PC. Consumers who are using the new WD Black PCIe SSD to boot up, load read-intensive games or applications, or shut down a system may realize a performance improvement of more than 10 seconds when compared to SATA SSDs.1

"NVMe PCIe-based SSD adoption is poised to accelerate in 2017 and the years to follow," said Jeff Janukowicz, vice president, IDC. "Products like the WD Black PCIe SSD, with a broad ecosystem and compatibility testing, should give customers a significant performance increase over SATA SSDs and offer a straightforward solution for customers to update to or build future-ready systems."

As a compatible and reliable solution to ramp up newer PC configurations with PCIe performance, the WD Black PCIe SSD is the ideal storage solution for the performance PC enthusiast and for more demanding gaming and VR-focused applications. The WD Black PCIe SSD delivers more than three times the sequential read performance of SATA SSDs, an industry-leading 1.75M hours MTTF, and WD Functional Integrity Testing (F.I.T.) Lab certification. The WD Black PCIe SSD has been designed with thermal and power management algorithms beyond the NVMe specification to help with consistent performance as well as low power consumption.
Like all WD SSDs, the WD Black PCIe SSDs include free, downloadable, WD SSD Dashboard software, which allows continuous performance, capacity monitoring, and firmware updates.

"We are in the midst of a once-in-a-generation interface change," says Eyal Bek, senior director of client SSD, Devices Business Unit, Western Digital. "The WD Black PCIe SSD ramps up performance while delivering worry-free reliability for our customers worldwide. We believe that this will accelerate the transition that is already occurring from SATA to PCIe. Western Digital is uniquely positioned to offer customers a complete storage portfolio—HDD or SSD, and SATA or PCIe form factors for every segment of the market."

"ASUS is dedicated to advancing technologies and leading innovation. WD and ASUS worked closely together to ensure that the WD Black PCIe SSD delivers performance that our customers expect with hassle-free installation and use. With the latest ASUS motherboards and WD Black PCIe SSDs, gamers can focus on winning rather than the distraction of waiting for games or levels to load," said Joe Hsieh, corporate vice president and general manager, Motherboard Business Unit and New Product Planning Division, ASUS.

Pricing and Availability

WD Black PCIe SSDs will be available in 256GB and 512GB capacities in a single-sided M.2 2280 form factor. The WD Black PCIe SSD boasts up to 2050MB/s and 800MB/s sequential read and write speeds, a 5-year limited warranty and WD F.I.T. Lab™ certification for compatibility with many leading platforms. Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the WD Black PCIe SSD start at $109.00 USD for the 256GB and $199.99 for the 512GB. The WD Black PCIe SSD will be available worldwide and on www.wd.com during the first half of 2017.

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