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WD mingles flash memory and hard drive in a single storage device

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Western Virtual has introduced a brand new structure that may mix some great benefits of the rate of flash reminiscence chips and the density of exhausting disk drives in one product for enterprises and shoppers.

The OptiNAND generation integrates exhausting disk drives (HDD) with iNAND flash reminiscence chips. WD stated this may give shoppers on each the undertaking facet and the patrons facet the facility to retailer huge quantities of extra information in a bid to stay alongside of the exponential expansion of information within the coming years. WD introduced the inventions that it stated spoil the boundaries of conventional garage at its on-line match these days.

Ravi Pendekanti, senior vice chairman of HDD product control and advertising at WD, stated in an interview with VentureBeat that buyers in spaces similar to hyperscale cloud, communications companies, enterprises, sensible video surveillance companions, network-attached garage (NAS) providers, and extra want much more capability, efficiency, and reliability. And WD’s plan to try this is to leverage some great benefits of each exhausting drives, which is able to retailer a large number of information, and flash, which is able to get admission to information briefly.

“We’re assured at the moment that we will be able to succeed in 50 terabytes via the second one part of this decade in comparison to 20 terabytes these days,” stated Pendekanti.


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The brewing downside with information garage has grow to be acute as HDD architectures now include as a lot reminiscence and processing energy as PCs from the early 2000s.

Within the subsequent 5 years, WD expects to look extra information created than two times up to the quantity of information that has been created all over computing historical past, Pendekanti stated.

“To deal with this, we went again in and began taking a look at what’s that that we will be able to do subsequent. It was once about integrating NAND into our exhausting drives,” Pendekanti stated. “What it in point of fact does to us is it in point of fact does make stronger is helping us make stronger the capability of our drives. It is helping us make stronger the efficiency. And it additionally improves the reliability.”

Sizzling and heat

WD mingles flash memory and hard drive in a single - WD mingles flash memory and hard drive in a single storage device

Above: OptiNand generation vertically integrates flash and HDD tech.

Symbol Credit score: WD

Earlier than OptiNAND, flash (non-volatile) reminiscence in an HDD was once used basically for booting and storing tiny quantities of metadata. As HDD garage structure has grow to be extra subtle, the addition of a flash layer is a logical step within the components’s reminiscence hierarchy.

The groups labored at the tech for a few years, ever since WD bought flash maker Sandisk.

“We discovered from one of the previous pitfalls we discussed,” Pendekanti stated.

Previously, the hybrid answer was once to jot down “sizzling” information to the restricted reminiscence of the flash chips. If it was once “heat” information, it would move onto the disk itself. However it wasn’t all the time simple to differentiate sizzling from heat in the case of information that needed to be accessed briefly.

“Previously, with the hybrid drives, the 2 applied sciences had been introduced in, however they weren’t totally vertically built-in,” stated Carl Che, leader generation officer on the HDD trade unit at WD, in an interview. “The key phrase is vertical integration. And that’s the place I feel the largest pitfall was once. And any person additionally needed to perceive what sort of information it was once (sizzling or heat).”

He added, ” Lately, we’re vertically integrating each the flash and the disk facet. We aren’t having any person do guesswork. And that may be a giant shift.”

Flash is less expensive than DRAM (dynamic random get admission to reminiscence, or major reminiscence), with information patience throughout energy cycles. Flash
additionally supplies sooner get admission to than disk, enabling time-sensitive calculations to be carried out whilst conserving the disk unfastened to accomplish host operations.

The brand new OptiNAND-enabled reminiscence hierarchy makes use of the pressure system-on-chip (SoC) to keep an eye on conversation with the iNAND EFD. With OptiNAND, key pressure house responsibilities purposes can make the most of an building up in metadata capacity. This may scale back long run DRAM wishes in addition to allow extra subtle mechanisms to succeed in higher capacities, higher efficiency and enhanced reliability.

Triple-stage actuator

1630427655 21 WD mingles flash memory and hard drive in a single - WD mingles flash memory and hard drive in a single storage device

Above: WD’s 20TB pressure

Symbol Credit score: WD

WD stepped forward the precision of HDD heads with a triple-stage actuator (TSA) generation, which allows higher precision for a recording head on an HDD. That permits upper areal density via higher tracks in keeping with inch (TPI) to give you the very best capacities. HDDs generate gigabytes of metadata that can be used to extend areal density.

This knowledge is simply too massive to be cost-effectively maintained in DRAM whilst retrieving this knowledge on-demand from disk interferes with host operations and function. OptiNAND allows cost-efficient garage and rapid get admission to to this huge amount of metadata that may be saved and accessed in actual time, releasing up treasured area at the rotating media for person information.

Within the match of an EPO, OptiNAND can securely flush and retain just about 50 occasions extra buyer information than prior technology HDDs that flush information to DRAM. In the meantime, OptiNAND generation will lengthen the potential of energy-assisted PMR (ePMR) for a couple of generations, permitting shoppers to proceed making the most of a confirmed recording generation.

With the blended applied sciences, WD will be capable of retailer 2.2 terabytes (TB) in keeping with exhausting disk platter, extending capacities beneficial properties on confirmed ePMR generation.

“We see a trail to the primary three-terabyte drives the usage of this generation,” Pendekanti stated. “We’re feeling assured about it.”

Environment a brand new trade milestone, Western Virtual has shipped samples of a brand new nine-disk, 20TB ePMR flash-enhanced drives with OptiNAND generation to make a choice shoppers. (A terabyte is a trillion bytes).

“The entire information at the exhausting pressure in point of fact is ready maximizing the entire capability. So, it is a construction designed for long run makes use of,” he stated.


The brand new flash-enhanced pressure structure with OptiNAND generation might be to be had around the corporate’s portfolio of drives and garage platforms. It is going to additionally function the basis for long run designs and inventions, with additional advances to return in intelligence, reliability, capability, and time-to-market price. The corporate will start saying market-specific, purpose-built merchandise throughout its portfolio later this yr.

“We’re introducing new applied sciences that may in reality persist for a couple of generations of goods,” Pendekanti stated. “We will be able to center of attention at the generation these days. After which within the months forward will pop out and communicate to us about particular merchandise that use this generation.”


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